Eight Democratic lawmakers have taken the unprecedented step of sending a letter to the United Nations asking that it investigate “recent, ongoing, and credible allegations of egregious human rights abuses” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The letter was sent to H.E. Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is signed by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Alan Lowenthal (N.Y.) and Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.).
The group specifically asks that the U.N. investigate charges contained in a Sept. 14 whistleblower report filed with the Inspector General of DHS that women detailed at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Irwin, Ga., were subject to unnecessary surgeries – including partial or full hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures in 2018 and 2019.
The letter also requests that the U.N. conduct an independent inquiry into additional alleged abuses, including “fatally neglectful” medical care within the ICE network of over 200 detention facilities; forcible separation of children from their families, failure to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and the feeding to detained Muslims pork and providing them with expired halal meals that caused them to become ill.
Lawmakers also are asking that DHS’s role in the federal response to protests in Portland, Ore., be investigated by the U.N. commission. They say the extraordinary request is necessary because they do not believe an internal DHS request will impartially report the facts.
“Holding the Department of Homeland Security accountable for its long history of abuses is a human rights, reproductive justice, and public health imperative,” Tlaib said. “That they have now been accused of literally removing immigrant women’s wombs is perhaps the most egregious yet.”
Rep. Omar added, “The President of the United States oversaw massive human rights abuses within our own country, against children no less. As we would with human rights abuses in another country, we must call on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to launch independent investigations.”
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) October 26, 2020