Georgia Facility Accused of Unneeded Medical Procedures on Female Migrants Cut from DHS Program

The Department of Homeland Security has ended a contract with the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia after migrant women claimed they were subjected to unwanted medical procedures at the facility.

The department said it would end the contract it had with the Georgia detention center and another facility in North Dartmouth, Mass. that also was the subject of complaints of inhumane conditions, the Associated Press reported.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said ending the contracts with the facilities is part of an effort to make "lasting improvements" to detention centers with harsh conditions.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Detention Center in Texas
Immigrant children read and play at an aid center after being released from U.S. government detention on November 3, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The Department of Homeland Security has ended contracts with the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia and another facility in Massachusetts after complaints of inhumane conditions. John Moore/Getty Images

Any detainees at the two facilities who the U.S. believes should remain in custody will be transferred elsewhere, Mayorkas said in announcing the move, which had been sought by immigrant advocates.

It also reflects a broader effort to roll back the anti-immigrant policies that characterized U.S. policy under President Donald Trump.

"Today's announcements show the Biden administration's willingness to decisively break from the immigrants' rights abuses of prior administrations," said Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, which recently called for the closure of 39 immigration detention centers around the country.

The Massachusetts jail was run under an agreement with the Bristol County Sheriff's Office. The Georgia facility was run by a private company under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Members of Congress and advocates have called for the closure of the Georgia facility since last year after women held there told of being forced into unnecessary gynecological procedures with dirty equipment that led to serious infections. The conditions were so unsanitary that some women begged to be deported.

In addition, immigrants had broader complaints about overall conditions, alleging that authorities at the detention center failed to take adequate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Immigrants held at the Massachusetts jail have also complained about a lack of COVID-19 precautions as well as overcrowding and excessive use of force.

"Allow me to state one foundational principle," Mayorkas said in announcing the measures, "We will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention."

Mayorkas on Cutting Ties with Detention Centers
In this May 12, 2021 photo, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the Senate Appropriations committee hearing in Washington. The Biden administration will stop using immigration detention facilities in Massachusetts and Georgia that are the subject of abuse allegations. On Thursday, Mayorkas announced that federal authorities will no longer use the jail facilities in Bristol County, Massachusetts and the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. Bill O'Leary/Associated Press