“Truth Over Flies.” That’s the phrase making headlines this past week after a fly landed on Vice President Mike Pence’s head on national television during the VP Debate. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his nominee for vice president Kamala Harris then took to selling fly swatters for their campaign, selling out almost immediately. It’s no surprise that an unimportant fly got more attention than the illegal, forced hysterectomies happening in ICE detention centers. After all, almost 58 million people watched the VP Debate, an hour and a half long public debate during an election campaign, which was over the three million that regularly watch major news networks. With Election Day just two weeks away, Americans are more concerned about who will be winning this year’s election, not about the 18 alleged sterilizations on female immigrant detainees.
An article written by the Associated Press revealed that a number of women in a Georgia detention center were given medical treatment by a gynecologist known as Dr. Mahendra Amin. These women were said to be misinformed about what the purpose of the surgeries they underwent were for. Many fear that instead of being treated for cysts, as one of the patients was, they were being illegally sterilized, preventing them from having children in the future. After several of the allegations got some media attention, immigration authorities claimed that migrant women would no longer be seeing Dr. Mahendra Amin, but the damage had already been done.
Forced sterilization is nothing new to the United States, minority groups being the most targeted. Eugenics, the idea of governmental selective breeding among humans in order to get rid of “undesirable traits,” can be traced back to as early as the 20th century. In 1927, a major Supreme Court case known as Buck v. Bell set a precedent that made it legal for states to “sterilize inmates of public institutions.” In this particular case, the procedure was meant to benefit the “health” of a “feeble minded woman” as well as promote “the welfare of society.” To this day, Buck v. Bell has never been overturned and doesn’t just raise the question of privacy rights but also prisoners’ rights. Inmates, despite not having full constitutional rights, are protected by the Eighth Amendment and other privileges that can extend to illegal immigrant detainees, such as protecting them from injustices such as discrimination and arbitrary treatment.
It’s Oct. 15 and the coverage on the ICE whistleblower investigation only ran for a few weeks last month. Now the news is all about the election, President Trump’s tax returns and SNL skits about that fly on the Vice President’s head. This situation is a lot more than just forced hysterectomies. It’s about the way the U.S. has treated immigrants, specifically Latin Americans, for years. Hispanics are slowly becoming a majority in the United States but, despite the numbers, they are still forgotten about, the media ignorant of the crimes committed against them. They have been victims of robbery, police violence and now forced sterilizations.
Every day new articles and videos pop up about that one moment in television when Mike Pence had a fly on his head, but nothing new pops up about the unfair treatment against immigrants in this country. The women in those ICE detention centers may have come to America illegally but that does not make them any less human. If we look at figures of power today, such as Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, we can see issues of abortion and civil rights coming to light. We see people fighting to protect their individual rights but hardly anybody is talking about what the future looks like for immigrants. Who fights for them? Who will bring attention to the crimes committed against them in the past and present? Immigrants are a big part of the U.S. economy, yet many in this nation still fear them.
Immigrants are expected to assimilate and change everything that they may have ever known to start a new life in a place that they know very little about. When they speak out, nobody listens to them and the crimes committed in ICE detention centers are evidence of that. The media and the public should not be caring about some fly. They should be caring about the wrongdoings in a nation that has, in recent years, worked against a group of people just searching for a better life.