In court and in Congress, Georgia Law clinics continue efforts on behalf of immigrant women alleging abuse, retaliation while in ICE detention

University of Georgia School of Law clinics’ faculty and students have continued to press forward– both in court and in Congress – in challenges they have brought on behalf of women clients who are challenging the abuses they endured while in U.S. immigration detention.

As previously posted, Georgia Law’s Community HeLP Clinic and First Amendment Clinic have pursued administrative, judicial, and advocacy paths in support of women who had been in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Irwin Detention Center, a privately run facility in south Georgia. While there, the women were subjected to nonconsensual, gynecological and other medical procedures; those who spoke out were met with retaliatory acts, including attempted or actual removal from the United States.

For more than two years, the Georgia Law clinics have represented some of these women in judicial and administrative proceedings. Associate Dean Jason A. Cade, Director of the Community HeLP Clinic, and Professor Clare R. Norins, Director of the First Amendment Clinic, are among co-counsel in Oldaker v. Giles, a class action complaint pending before Judge W. Louis Sands, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. Assisting them have been Staff Attorney Kristen Shepherd, Legal Fellow Lindsey Floyd, and many law students.

The Oldaker litigation took a new turn last Monday, when Judge Sands granted a contested motion and thus added two new named plaintiffs, both of them represented by the Georgia Law clinics.

Congressional action occurred earlier last month, when the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing on “Medical Mistreatment of Women in Ice Detention,” on November 15 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

That same day, the subcommittee – led by its Chairman, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia), and Ranking Member, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), simultaneously released a 103-page Staff Report (pictured above) based on its 18-month investigation of the issue. The report recounted many incidents on which the Oldaker suit is based, and further incorporated information provided by six plaintiffs, one of them represented by the Georgia Law clinics. Among other key findings, the report stated that:

  • The women detainees “appear to have been subjected to excessive, invasive, and often unnecessary gynecological procedures” by one of the center’s physicians; and
  • ICE “did not employ a thorough vetting process,” and, before hiring the physician in question, “was not aware of publicly available information regarding medical malpractice suits” and other complaints against him.

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