MAY 2021 UPDATE & Press Statement: The Biden administration announced it will sever ties with the Irwin County Detention Center and no longer use it as an ICE detention facility.
JANUARY 2021 UPDATE: A month after filing the lawsuit below, all named plaintiffs who were still in ICE custody have been released from the Irwin County Detention Center, allowing them to be reunited with their families while they continue to litigate their claims.
December 21, 2020 – The University of Georgia School of Law’s First Amendment and Community HeLP Clinics are co-counsel in a consolidated petition and class action complaint filed in Oldaker v. Giles, 7:20-CV-00224-WLS-MHS (M.D. Ga.), on behalf of twelve women, and others similarly situated, who allege medical abuse, neglect, and retaliation in violation of their First Amendment rights while detained in the custody of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia.
As part of the December 2020 filing of the complaint, more than 40 women submitted sworn testimony to the court alleging unnecessary and non-consensual gynecological surgeries and procedures. The women also attested to a pattern of retaliation — including efforts to quickly deport them — for their efforts to protest their treatment within the detention center and to speak to investigators, reporters, and members of Congress about their experiences.
Organizations and firms representing the women detained at Irwin include:
- National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG)
- Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, Columbia Law School
- Dreyer Sterling LLC
- Community Health Law Partnership Clinic and First Amendment Clinic, University of Georgia School of Law
- Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Harvard Law School
- Immigrant Rights Clinic, Texas A&M School of Law
- Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program, Boston University School of Law
- Project South
The complaint and accompanying motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) call for an immediate end to retaliation against the women, compensation for the harms they have experienced, and writs from the court requiring ICE to make the women available to fully participate in the lawsuit, or alternatively, to release the women from the detention center (all of the women were released, but still subject to ICE custody, as of January 22, 2021).
In addition to co-counseling on the complaint and TRO, the First Amendment Clinic prepared a motion to seal certain of the women’s medical records and declarations because of the sensitive, private information they contain and concerns about further retaliation, as well as to allow those women who would otherwise be too afraid to come forward to proceed anonymously as “Jane Does.” These requested protections facilitate the women being able to safely present their grievances to the court for redress.