News India Times – that’s all you need to know U.S. Affairs News India Times November 25, 2022 6 W omen held at a privately run immigration jail in Georgia were likely subjected to un- necessary gynecological procedures, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities failed to halt a years-long pattern of what medical experts called “aggressive and unethical” treatment, according to a report published Tuesday by a bipartisan Senate panel. The 108-page report, the result of an 18-month inves- tigation, examined claims made by immigrant advocates and a whistleblower, DawnWooten, who worked as a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in rural Geor- gia. The inquiry did not substantiate claims that women at the facility, operated by the for-profit company LaSalle Corrections, had been subjected to mass hysterectomies, as advocates initially claimed. But the investigation found Georgia physician Mahendra Amin appeared to have performed “excessive, invasive, and often unnecessary gynecological procedures” on dozens of women detained for deportation proceedings between 2017 and 2020. Neither ICE nor La Salle Corrections took action until 2020, after the whistleblower came forward, the report said. “Our findings are deeply disturbing,” Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Gov- ernmental Affairs Committee’s permanent subcommittee on investigations said at a hearing Tuesday. Denouncing what he called “a catastrophic failure by the federal government to respect basic human rights,” Ossoff said Amin scheduled surgeries when less-invasive options were available, performed “unnecessary injec- tions and treatments” and often proceeded without the patients’ informed consent. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, and other GOP lawmakers were not at the hearing, but Johnson’s name was on the report and Ossoff thanked him and his staff for their work on the investigation. From 2017 to 2020, Amin was the provider for 6.5 per- cent of all offsite obstetric and gynecological visits for ICE detainees nationwide. Yet he performed 82 percent of all “dilation and curettage” surgeries, 93 percent of all con- traceptive injections, and 94 percent of all laparoscopic surgery to remove lesions. “One doctor,” Ossoff said. He said the subcommittee asked to interview Amin, then subpoenaed him when he refused. Ossoff said Amin invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Amin’s lawyer, Scott Grubman, defended Amin in an email to TheWashington Post. Amin has filed lawsuits against a media outlet and an author who publicized the allegations, saying the claims against him were false. “Dr. Amin has been practicing for nearly 40 years, and has never performed a procedure that was not, in his professional judgment, necessary and appropriate,” Grubman said in the email. “Curiously, the Congressional Committee seems to have reached certain conclusions regarding Dr. Amin’s medical care without requesting a single medical record from Dr. Amin’s office, proving that the Committee was not at all interested in the truth, but simply scoring political points.” Grubman’s email did not respond to questions about why Amin took the Fifth or how Democratic or Republi- can lawmakers would gain politically from the report. The Senate panel consulted with medical experts such as Peter Cherouny, an ob-gyn physician who previously conducted medical reviews for the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies. Cherou- ny reviewed more than 16,600 pages of medical records that covered approximately 94 women treated by Amin, according to the report. In the report, Cherouny found Amin’s use of certain procedures to be “too aggressive” and “woefully behind the times,” noting that Amin was not a board certified physician who would be required to remain up to date on the most current medical practices. Cherouny said the care Amin provided was “pretty good medicine for the 1980s, but we’re not there any- more,” according to the report. Former detainees held at the Irwin facility filed a class-action lawsuit in 2020 against the jail, ICE, Amin, the Irwin County Hospital and other parties alleging the detainees had undergone nonconsensual and unneces- sary gynecological procedures. Amin has not been charged criminally, though the report says he was “under criminal investigation by multiple federal agencies” as of early 2022. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, who also testified at the hearing, confirmed that multiple agencies are still investigating the matter, including his. In emotional testimony, Karina Cisneros Preciado, a mother of two who lives in Florida, said she was taken to Amin for a post-partum checkup in 2020, while she was in immigrant detention for several months. She testified that she was arrested after calling the police to report that her partner abused her. Authorities dropped criminal charges against her, she said, then transferred her to ICE for civil deportation proceedings. She had been brought to the United States at age 8 fromMexico, and had a four-month-old daughter at the time of her arrest. During the appointment, she said, Amin barely ac- knowledged her, roughly examined her pelvis, diagnosed her with a cyst, and administered an injection. “Then he asks the nurse, ‘How many more?’ And he just walks off,” she told the Senate panel. She said she signed a piece of paper but didn’t under- stand it. Ossoff assailed Stewart Smith, assistant director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Health Service Corps, for failing to properly vet Amin. The senator said Amin had previously been sued by the Justice Depart- ment and the state of Georgia for allegedly “perform- ing excessive and unnecessary procedures,” had been dropped by a major insurer for “excessive malpractice claims” and was not board-certified. “Are you not shocked that this happened under your watch?” Ossoff asked Smith, who called the testimony “very troubling.” Smith said ICE learned from the whistleblower in September 2020 of allegations of “forced medical proce- dures” and conducted a review the next month. ICE did not find evidence of any such procedures, he said in his written testimony, but immediately stopped sending pa- tients to Amin “out of an abundance of caution and due to the seriousness of the allegations.” In May 2021, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he would stop housing detainees at the Irwin County facility. “ICE is firmly committed to ensuring all those in its custody receive appropriate medical care and are treated with respect and dignity,” Smith said in his written testi- mony. Pamela Hearn, medical director for LaSalle Correc- tions, said the private company had a “limited role” in detaining immigrants and transferring them to nearby health-care providers selected by Smith’s office. In her written testimony, she said ICE “was solely authorized and responsible for vetting and credentialing all off-site medical providers to offer medical services to detainees.” Ossoff told Smith that if the committee had been able to background-check Amin and quantify the dispropor- tionate number of procedures he was performing, then ICE should have, too. “The data was warning you, but you weren’t looking at it,” Ossoff said. “And a lot of people got hurt.” -TheWashington Post By Maria Sacchetti,Nick Miroff Senate Report Details Medical Mistreatment Of Female Immigration Detainees Number Of Indian Students In U.S. Surged In Academic Year 2021-22: Report A lmost 200,000 Indian students chose the United States as their destination for higher education which is an increase of 19 per cent over the previous year, an annual Open Doors report on international student exchange for the academic year 2021-22 released on Monday said. Open Doors is a comprehensive information resource on international students and scholars studying or teach- ing at higher education institutions in the United States, and US students studying abroad for academic credit at their home colleges or universities. The US Depart- ment of State sponsors this survey of international exchange activity in the United States. “We are absolutely delighted to see this 19 per cent increase in the Indian students choosing the United States for higher education over last year. This is a real testament to the value that Indian students and parents see in US educa- tion,” said Anthony Miranda, Public Diplomacy counsellor for Cultural and Educational Affairs, US Embassy in New Delhi. When asked about the safety of students due to increase in the shooting incidents in the United States, Anthony said that they are always ‘concerned’ about the safety of students and there are ‘all kinds of procedures and systems’ in place. “We are always concerned with the safety of all of our students, whether they are American students or foreign stu- dents. Universities really take security se- riously. There are all kinds of procedures in place whether it’s campus or systems where students can alert authorities if there is anything wrong or suspicious so that universities can remain safe places”, he added. At present, there are 9,14,095 interna- tional students studying in the United States. In recent years, India has recorded the highest growth in the number of students studying in the US. Currently, India is second only to China in terms of the stu- dent population in the United States. Last year, 1,67,582 Indian students went to the United States to pursue their higher education out of whom the major- ity opted to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. However, other fields of study such as business and management, social sciences and education are also popular among international students. The Institute of International Educa- tion (IIE) publishes the Open Doors report. IIE conducts an annual statistical survey on international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the US Depart- ment of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972. Open Doors also reports on the number of international scholars at US universities and international students enrolled in pre-academic. -ANI By Ayushi Agarwal