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US immigration officials told to seek court orders before sedating unwilling deportees

[JURIST] US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] has issued a memo saying that its officers are now required to obtain a judge's approval before a deportee can be sedated in order to facilitate his or her removal from the country. The memo, written by ICE Director of the Office of Detention and Removal Operations John Torres [official profile] and released Wednesday, said that in order to receive permission to sedate, officials must show a judge that a deportee has a history of physically resisting removal or that they pose a danger to themselves. ICE gave 56 deportees psychotropic drugs during a seven-month period in 2006 and 2007, 33 of whom had no prior history of mental illness.

In June the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU/SC) [advocacy website] brought a federal class action lawsuit [JURIST report; ACLU press release] against the US government on behalf of two immigrants who said they were forcibly drugged with sedatives during deportation proceedings. Neither of the men had a history of mental illness, and the ACLU/SC alleges the druggings were merely meant to silence them. AP has more.

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