Evangelical Leaders Respond to Allegations of Medical Misconduct in an Immigrant Detention Facility

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Evangelical Leaders Respond to Allegations of Medical Misconduct in an Immigrant Detention Facility.

Evangelical Christian leaders call for transparency and accountability regarding recent allegations of medical misconduct in an immigrant detention facility.

As evangelicals who believe in the God-given dignity of every person, including immigrants and those in detention, we have deep concerns about recent reports of non-consensual hysterectomies and other mistreatment suffered by migrant women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. If these allegations prove to be true, we condemn them in the strongest possible terms and call for those responsible to be held accountable. The violation of these female immigrant detainees is an affront to our pro-life ethic.

We are also deeply concerned about allegations that facility personnel failed to undertake basic COVID-19 safety precautions, exposing detainees, staff and the surrounding communities to serious risks.

We are very glad to see the Department of Homeland Security has opened an investigation into these allegations, and we urge that the investigation’s findings are made public and there be full transparency and strong accountability regarding any wrongdoing.

We also call on the Inspector General to review DHS oversight of the conditions and medical care at all facilities to ensure the proper care for all immigrant detainees, at the Irwin County Detention Center and other facilities. Protecting the lives of detainees, staff and the surrounding communities should be a top priority for DHS.

We also call on DHS to expand the use of more cost-effective alternatives to detention for those awaiting immigration proceedings, particularly in light of the risks to the risks faced by detainees and staff in overcrowded facilities.

The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:

“The initial reports of the lack of proper medical care in detention facilities, including reports of forced hysterectomies and high rates of COVID infections amongst detained immigrants, are extremely alarming and disturbing. We are glad that the Department of Homeland Security is starting an internal investigation into this complaint, and we encourage the Department to do so thoroughly, expeditiously, and as transparently as possible.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:

“Migrant individuals represent a more vulnerable population experiencing difficult circumstances—they are tired, poor, hungry and may face a language barrier during important conversations.  Therefore, the strong party, in this case the U.S. government, must watch out for the weaker party with extra care and concern. This is our American ideal, and we must advocate for policies that recognize the dignity with which God has endowed all people.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:

“We call upon this administration to do what is right and to follow our country’s own laws. As instructed in the Bible, we should treat the “foreigners” in our land as our guests. What is happening to these individuals is evil. Let’s live up to what America has stood for – order of law and life. ”

Walter Kim, President, National Association of Evangelicals:

“God’s special concern for the vulnerable is an undeniable concept in the Bible. Indeed, he measures societies by how they treat the powerless. As evangelicals who believe that every individual is made in God’s image, we grieve to hear horrific allegations like these and urge the accountability of individuals and structures that prey on the weak.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:

“These alleged violations of women and children under the care of ICE, ranging from unwanted hysterectomies to Covid19 exposure, should rattle all but the most seared over consciences. We have sadly grown to expect such questions of medical maleficence by brutal regimes elsewhere in the world, but we never expected to have to address such allegations about our own country. We are calling for a thorough investigation and if anything approaching the allegations of this whistleblower complaint happened, everyone involved should be held accountable.”

Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:

“As Christians committed to honoring the image of God and the inherent dignity of all people we call for transparency in the investigations concerning the allegations that have arisen concerning forced hysterectomies of women in immigrant detention. Our national conscience demands that the Administration and DHS respond with the utmost transparency and integrity when it comes to responding to these very serious allegations against the dignity of immigrant women.”

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