Vital win as Trump admin agrees to not deport gynecologist's immigrant victims amid investigation
After trying to deport detained women who have spoken out about abuse at the hands of a notorious Georgia gynecologist, Vice News reports that the Trump administration has agreed to not take any further action on the cases of perhaps as many as a dozen women until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. The threat of deportation is over, for now.
“It’s a victory for the women, who allege they were given gynecological procedures which they did not consent to or understand,” the report said. And it’s a vital concession by the outgoing administration, which had despicably tried two different times (that we publicly know of) to deport these women for exposing this horrific, criminal abuse.
Among those expected to remain protected through January are Ana Cajigal Adan and “JR,” who said last month they again feared deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after discovering that their commissary accounts at the privately operated Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla had been emptied out. This usually indicates deportation is imminent.
Vice News reports that two other women detained at Irwin have also been identified in court documents, though advocates say the agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office could cover additional other women: “Mbeti Ndonga, who immigrated from Kenya as a toddler,” and “Yanira Yessenia Oldaker, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 3,” the report said.
In condemning attempts to deport these women, more than 100 congressional Democrats had said they may in fact be eligible for special visas as victims of crime who then cooperate with law enforcement, and urged officials to release them as the investigation against Dr. Mahendra Amin continued.
“Deporting these witnesses—especially when none of them have received independent physical or mental health evaluations by medical experts—amounts to a de facto destruction of evidence,” legislators wrote in the letter, The Washington Post reported. They write that the women—there’s more than 50 who have stepped forward—should have the chance to apply for what’s called a U-visa, which puts undocumented immigrant victims of violent crime who work with law enforcement on a path to legal status.
Elora Mukherjee, Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School director and an attorney who represents two of the victims, told Vice News the court agreement to not deport a number of the women is significant. “This is an acknowledgement by the federal government that it is critically important that these women have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the federal investigation related to medical atrocities at Irwin,” she said.
The next steps should be for ICE to release these women from harmful detention conditions that the novel coronavirus pandemic has only made worse as the incoming Biden administration fully investigates these abuses. As legislators have noted, victims should also be considered for special visas.
“I joined @SenJeffMerkley & colleagues in supporting advocates’ efforts to halt the deportations,” Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted in response to the report. “We must get to the bottom of this.” Vice News: “There are ongoing investigations into the allegations against Amin by the Department of Homeland Security’s office of the inspector general, the FBI, and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division, as well as allegations of mistreatment against multiple medical providers.”