This is about as close an indication that America is indeed presently in the process of being locked-down into a quasi-police-state as I’ve seen so far. You can bet that if it’s happening to undocumented workers now... American citizens won’t be far behind. It’s wrong; it’s immoral, and it cannot stand in America.
The very potent anti-psychotic drug named in the suit, Haldol, which is often used to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, is one of the drugs allegedly used against the will of detainees Raymond Soeoth and Amadou Diouf. Both are originally are from Senegal in West Africa.
The American Civil Liberties Union is bringing the class-action suit against ICE and the U.S. government. They are seeking a legal end to the process and unspecified damages.
The disconcerting story is at CNN.com
Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry, law and ethics at Columbia University, reviewed both men's medical records for this report and was stunned by what he discovered.
"I'm really shocked to find out that the government has been using physicians and using potent medications in this way," said Appelbaum, who also serves as a member of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.
"That is the sort of thing that would be subject to a malpractice claim in the civilian world."
The allegations of ICE forcibly drugging deportees were raised last month by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, during the re-nomination hearing of ICE chief Julie Myers.
"The information the committee has received from ICE regarding the forced drugging of immigration detainees is extremely troubling, particularly since it appears ICE may have violated its own detention standards," Lieberman spokeswoman Leslie Phillips told CNN in an e-mail.
"Senator Lieberman intends to follow up with ICE to ensure that detainees are not drugged unless there is a medical reason to do so."
ACLU attorney Ahilan Arulanantham, who is representing Soeoth and Diouf, said:
"It would be torture to give a powerful anti-psychotic drug to somebody who isn't even mentally ill. ... But here, it's happening on U.S. soil to an immigrant the government is trying to deport."
Myers said in a response to Lieberman’s written questions that 1,073 immigration detainees had "medical escorts" for deportation since 2003. She added that from October 2006 to the end of April 2007, 56 detainees received psychotropic drug medications: "... because of combative behavior with the imminent risk of danger to others and/or themselves."
"First, I am aware of, and deeply concerned about reports that past practices may not have conformed to ICE detention standards," Myers said.
She added no detainee should be "involuntarily medicated without court order," except in emergency situations.
But both Soeoth and Diouf say they had not exhibited any combative behavior.
Soeoth, a Christian minister from Indonesia, spent 27 months in detention awaiting deportation after his bid for political asylum was rejected. Hours before he was to be sent back home on December 7, 2004; he says guards injected him with a mystery drug that made him groggy for two days. (See the document that shows Soeoth was injected .PDF)
"They pushed me on the bench, they opened my pants, and they just give me injection," he said through broken English.
He says he was taken to Los Angeles International Airport while in this drug-induced stupor, but two hours before takeoff, airline security refused to transport him, so ICE agents returned him to his cell at Terminal Island near Los Angeles. Terminal Island, once a federal prison, is a crowded facility along the ocean where hundreds of illegal immigrants await deportation.
According to Soeoth’s medical records, he was injected with Haldol and another psychotropic-type drug called Cogentin – even though he had no history of mental illness. But, according to ICE records, he was injected with the drug after telling officials that he would kill himself if deported – even though Soeoth denies making any such remark.
In a written statement, ICE said that it couldn’t respond to specific allegations due to pending litigation.
"Department of Homeland Security law enforcement personnel may not and do not prescribe or administer medication to detainees," the ICE statement said:
"Only trained and qualified medical professionals, including officers of the U.S. Public Health Service, may prescribe or administer medication."
However, according to Soeoth, he was injected while on the plane awaiting takeoff. Soeoth also said that he was even in possession of a federal stay of his deportation but his government escorts wouldn’t allow him to show it to the pilot of the plane preparing to fly him out of the country. (See Diouf's stay of deportation document. PDF)
That's when, he says, "I was wrestled to the ground and injected through my clothes."
A government report says he was medicated because he did not follow orders.
In both cases, Diouf and Soeoth remain in the United States pending a decision in the case. If they lose, they may land back in the hands of ICE, once again facing deportation.
Soeoth says he's traumatized by what happened. "I know this country [is] very generous to immigrants," he says. "What they did to me was very, very bad."
You know, we bloggers read and write about Bush regime lawbreaking, constitutional subversions, power usurpations, and even atrocities every day, and even though I know it affects us all in private even personal ways, some stories "hit home" more than others.
For me, this is one of those stories. When it comes down to the forced application of non-prescribed drugs – even used as a sedative-type medication – for unruly detainees, it demonstrates a step beyond what can be allowed in a civilized country. I mean, what’s next... using undocumented workers as guinea pigs, testing new drugs, without even the essential prior medical histories of the "patient," necessary for any type of "testing program?"
It’s an ironic postscript to such a disturbing story as this one that a Bushwhacked, gutless wonder like Lieberman was in charge of Senate hearings on this matter. Perhaps, the judge assigned to this case will recognize this for what it is: an outrage; a grave injustice, perpetrated upon a human being.
This country used to welcome immigrants. Now it uses them as lab rats.
I am disgusted beyond words.
Impede, impeach and imprison.