“Filing the whistleblower complaint opened the door for more and more women to come forward from all over the world,” Shahshahani said in an interview. “There’s no telling how many people suffered medical abuse while at Irwin.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which uses the Irwin County facility to hold undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation, has not responded to the lawsuit. The agency’s inspector general is investigating medical care at Irwin, as are federal law-enforcement officials and members of Congress.
Amin’s lawyer, Scott Grubman, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Grubman has previously denied wrongdoing by Amin, saying the physician performed only medically necessary procedures and only with patients’ consent.
But in graphic, excruciating detail, lawyers for the detainees portrayed medical examinations and procedures as assaults that traumatized many of the women, particularly those with a history of sexual abuse. One woman said being treated by Amin was like “being raped again.”
Jaromy Floriano Navarro, a 28-year-old Mexican national detained at Irwin for almost a year, was taken to Amin after complaining of heavy menstrual cramps. During the examination, according to court papers, Amin “rested one hand on her knee while he inspected her vaginal area and inside her body. … He would switch between inserting his fingers and inserting an ultrasound wand inside her body.”
Amin told Floriano Navarro she needed a minor procedure to drain an ovarian cyst. Only later, as nurses prepared her for surgery in the Irwin County Hospital, Floriano Navarro learned that Amin was about to perform a hysterectomy instead, the suit alleges. The surgery was called off when Floriano Navarro tested positive for COVID-19. During a later appointment with the doctor, according to court papers, Amin “berated” her for resisting the hysterectomy.
When Floriano Navarro returned to the detention center, guards demanded to know whether she had been among the women cited in the whistleblower complaint, according to court papers. She acknowledged she was — and was deported less than 24 hours later. She is in Mexico now, separated from her children in the United States.
Other detainees said guards placed them in solitary confinement after they complained about Amin. Some said that after they underwent Amin’s procedures, the detention center refused to furnish supplies to prevent infection of their surgical incisions. One woman had a staph infection and a yeast infection when she was deported days after Amin performed surgery, according to court papers, and another woman who experienced heavy vaginal bleeding after seeing Amin said a guard refused to replace her soiled underpants.
Last month, a federal judge ordered immigration officials to stop deporting women from Irwin who are cooperating with law-enforcement or congressional investigators.
Immigration advocates, who have called for shutting down the detention center, hope to find a receptive audience in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. Shahshahani said the sheer number of women who have reported medical abuse should make a convincing argument.
“The whole picture is really disturbing,” she said. “It pains me to know there could be many more women out there in all parts of the world who will never be able to speak out about what happened to them.”