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Fewer US deportees being sedated for removal

Fewer US deportees being sedated for removal

Fewer deportees have been sedated with powerful medications during their removal from the United States by federal immigration officials, a practice that sparked outrage from immigration rights activists, according to a newspaper report.
Data obtained by The Dallas Morning News showed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sedated only 10 people in the past fiscal year, using the anti-psychotic drug Haldol in only three cases.
ICE was criticized and even sued over its practice in which most of those involuntarily sedated were given Haldol, a potent drug typically used to treat schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and hostility.
Immigration staff oversaw the sedation of 384 deportees over the past six fiscal years, through October. Haldol was used in 356 of the cases, the newspaper reported in Monday's editions. It's unclear how many were voluntary or forced, but attorneys and government officials believe most were involuntary.
Documents obtained by The News showed Africans were disproportionately sedated. In the past six fiscal years, nearly 40 percent of those sedated with Haldol were Africans.
The ACLU sued the U.S. government last year on behalf of the two immigrants, one from Senegal and another from Indonesia. The case was settled for $55,000 to be split between the two men. The government admitted no wrongdoing or liability.
When former Dallas resident Stanley Ukeni of Nigeria was deported in October 2007, he said immigration officials gave him two choices: arrive sedated in Nigeria or remain unsedated so he could better protect himself. Ukeni, who feared torture in Nigeria because of his human rights work, opted to go peacefully so he could avoid sedation.
Federal officials defended ICE's sedation policy, pointing out that medical personnel must recommend the procedure before it's used. A court order must now be obtained to drug a deportee.
"When we do ask the court to involuntarily sedate, it is both necessary to effectuate removal and medically appropriate," said ICE spokeswoman Pat Reilly.
Dr. Scott Allen, co-founder of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights said he opposes involuntary sedation unless the deportee has schizophrenia or some other mental illness.
Haldol is sometimes used for acute agitation in hospital emergency rooms. Medical authorities caution Haldol can trigger adverse reactions such as muscular spasms and a condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome that can result in a coma and even death if not treated.
In November 2007, federal officials sought a court order to sedate an Albanian political-asylum seeker who resisted deportation at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert wrote a private bill that halted the man's deportation until early 2009.


Updated : 2021-06-21 09:18 GMT+08:00