FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 15, 2020
COLOR Calls for End to Immigrant Detention and the Defunding of ICE
In response to recent reports of forced sterilization in ICE detention, advocates declare enough is enough, and call for all immigrant detention facilities and centers to be closed immediately.
(Denver, CO) – Statement by Dusti Gurule, Executive Director of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) on news that immigrant women were forcibly sterilized while detained:
“We at COLOR are disgusted to hear reports of sterilization at the hands of ICE and our government systems. News broke yesterday evening that immigrant women being held in a Georgia ICE detention center were being forced to have hysterectomies. Women from this same center, at great risk to their own safety, released a video in April to expose overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. One woman cried as she talked about the fear she would contract COVID-19 and die separated from her loved ones.
Countless reports have been shared of sexual assault, lack of adequate food and healthcare, and violent mistreatment in detention facilities throughout the country– including here in Colorado, at the Aurora Geo Facility. Let’s be clear. This latest atrocity is not the exception. This is how the system was designed. People are held in inhumane conditions. Families are torn apart and people are caged as a result of an immigration system that does not acknowledge our rights or humanity.
We hear people asking how this could happen, but this is not new to our community. Indigenous and enslaved Black women were assaulted, killed and denied any rights to their children. But we don’t have to go hundreds of years back to see this country’s pattern of violence against Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color.
Puerto Rican women were experimented on to develop contraception in the 1950s. Mexican and Mexican-American mothers giving birth at a Los Angeles County hospital in the 1970s were manipulated during childbirth to sign consent forms for sterilization with the goal of reducing childbirth among low-income women of Mexican descent.
In the 1980s, welfare reform included racist, coercive family caps as a condition of utilizing public assistance or nutrition programs. In recent years there have been several reports of women being told they can go home to their families and have reduced prison sentences if they are sterilized or use a long-acting contraceptive method. And just in the past year we have seen countless attempts to take away the ability to make our own decisions about our bodies and how we build our families through bans on access to abortion throughout the South and right here in Colorado.
The reproductive and bodily autonomy of womxn of color has been a subject of control and attacks for generations. This is not new. We will not be silent and we will not allow it to continue ANY LONGER!
We must eliminate policies that restrict the ability of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color to make our own reproductive decisions and fight for policies that promote bodily autonomy. We all need and deserve access to affordable contraception and the resources we need to have healthy pregnancies. We need to be able to build our families on our own terms, without the intrusion of politicians or coercive policies.
Politicians, prison wardens or hospital administrators should not be given the power to make decisions about our bodies, our health or our families. We should remain in control of seeking the care we need to prevent pregnancy, to seek an abortion and to have healthy pregnancies on our terms with the support of the people we love — not the intrusion of people looking to push their own agendas. And we must be real about the fact that there is no way to detain people in cages and have any care, dignity or basic human rights.
We must close the camps and every detention center across the country. We need to completely rebuild the entire immigration system with the input and leadership of our communities. We must demand more. We cannot wait any longer. We will not wait for another horrific story of abuse and degradation. We demand change at every level and in every system to protect and ensure our health, our rights and our dignity.”
Dusti Gurule is available for interview upon request.