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ICE Forced Sterilizations Claim Revives America’s Sick Eugenics Tradition

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos Getty

Not long after defenders of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda pilloried U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prisons “concentration camps on our southern border,” an ICE detainee in Georgia is alleging cruel and horrific medical neglect, including forced sterilizations performed by a gynecologist dubbed “the uterus collector.”

“When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp,” the detainee is quoted as saying in a whistleblower complaint, noting that between October and December of 2019, she met five different women at the prison who had been given non-consensual hysterectomies. “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”

The Third Reich’s experiments in sterilization, conducted at the Auschwitz and Ravensbrück camps, and ultimately including more 400,000 children and adult victims, looms larger than any other in the world’s historical memory. But Germany’s eugenics sterilization project — a program of mass genocide — should be recognized as an example of applied learning rooted in lessons taken from the United States, the original world-renowned leader in compulsory sterilization. 

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