Migrant who reported sterilization at US detention center released

Atlanta, Sep 23 (efe-epa).- Pauline Binam, one of the immigrants who complained that they had been sterilized against their will at a migrant detention center in Georgia, has been able to reunite with her family after being detained for almost three years and now wants to tell her story so that nobody else has to go through the same “nightmare.”

Binam managed to get what she had most hoped for – to see her 11-year-old daughter again – thanks to the intervention of lawmakers, attorneys, activists and religious leaders who quickly mobilized to prevent her deportation when she was already on board the plane that would have taken her back to her native Cameroon, all of whom mobilized after the complaints of sterilizations at the detention center became public.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released Binam on the weekend “for humanitarian reasons,” as her attorney, Van Huynh, with the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), which helped with her case, told EFE.

“Pauline is now reconnected with her family, with her US daughter, and for now she is staying with her sister, who cared for the little girl, near Baltimore, Maryland,” Huynh said.

The 30-year-old immigrant wants to tell her story to “ensure that what happened to her” at the Irwin County Detention Center, in southern Georgia, “doesn’t happen to any other woman,” according to her lawyer, who added that she will probably make her account public in the coming weeks.

According to GLAHR, Binam was identified as one of the women who were subjected to “unauthorized gynecological procedures” at that ICE center, which is now being investigated by Democratic leaders in Congress.

According to Huynh, the surgery his client underwent occurred in August 2019 when medical authorities initially were going to remove a cyst from her ovary, a relatively simple procedure, but in her case the surgeon also removed one of her Fallopian tubes without her consent and informed her that probably she would not be able to get pregnant again.

“At age 29, they stole Pauline’s future as a result of her being detained over immigration (matters),” her lawyer said.

“Binam and her family are now seeking to heal,” Sylvie Bello, the president of the Cameroon American Council, one of the organizations that intervened to secure Binam’s release and who was with her on the weekend, told EFE.

Bello said that now they will focus their efforts on securing the release of other immigrants from Cameroon, including a mother of triplets who is ill, and who may have gone through experiences similar to Binam’s.

The Irwin scandal was uncovered last week after several human rights organizations, including Project South and the Government Accountability Project, presented a complaint to the Inspector General’s Office at the Department of Homeland Security denouncing a series of dangerous practices at the privately-run Irwin center.

The complaint is based, mainly, on the testimony of Dawn Wooten, a nurse who worked at that center and who expressed her concern over the “high number” of undocumented women who had been given hysterectomies, a surgery in which the uterus is removed, many of whom did not understand why they were being operated on.

Various sources, including attorneys, activists and women who have been detained at Irwin, identified the doctor who performed the surgeries as Mahendra Amin, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, referring to him as the “uterus collector” because he took out “everything inside.”

Amin’s lawyer, Scott Grubman, said in a statement sent to EFE that they “categorically deny” the complaints against his client.

Dr. Amin is a “respected” physician who has “devoted his adult life to treating a high risk population” in rural Georgia, Grubman said, adding that he was confident that once all the facts come to light in the case his client “will be cleared” of any alleged irregularities.

ICE said last Thursday that it is ready to “fully cooperate” with any investigation into the complaint, adding that it will open an independent probe into the case.

The federal agency, however, went on to say that it “vehemently” disputes the implication that detainees are used for “experimental medical procedures.”

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