Immigration Law

Hundreds of Deported Foreigners Drugged for Flight Home


A Washington Post investigation has found the government injected more than 250 deported foreigners with psychiatric drugs to keep them sedated for their flights home.

In dozens of cases the deportees were so incapacitated by the drugs they had to be taken onto the planes in wheelchairs. A medical note about one deportee without a wheelchair reported, “Unsteady gait. Fell onto tarmac.”

One deportation file contained a nurse’s allegations that one officer taunted “Nighty-night” before a deportee was restrained and injected with drugs.

The Post story was based on internal documents and interviews with people who said they received the medications. The story says drugging detainees without their consent or medical justification is a violation of some international human rights codes.

The Department of Homeland Security’s new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency changed its policy and now requires a court order before drugging unruly deportees.

In October, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion to stop authorities from forcibly drugging deportees in response to Senate testimony in which an ICE official said 50 immigrant detainees had been forcibly given psychotropic drugs in seven months, and 33 had no prior psychiatric diagnosis, ABAJournal.com previously reported.

Related coverage:

Associated Press: “ACLU files motion to prevent forcible drugging of deportees by immigration officials”

Updated at 11:15 a.m. to include earlier coverage.

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