LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion to stop immigration authorities forcibly drugging deportees as they are put on commercial flights back to their home countries.
The motion, filed Tuesday in federal court, comes after an immigration official testified in the Senate last month that 50 immigrants over a seven-month period were forced to take psychotropic drugs. Many of them had no psychiatric diagnosis.
"The new information shows the government's forcible drugging policy is more widespread than previously suggested," ACLU attorney Ahilan T. Arulanantham said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauri Haley would not comment about the pending litigation, but said forced medications were rarely given.
"Medical sedation is an act of last resort and is rarely used," Haley said.
According to court papers, one of the deportees, a Senegalese man, was forced to the floor in the aisle of a plane parked at Los Angeles International Airport and injected with medication.
The motion states, "It's both medically inappropriate and shocking that the government believes it can treat immigrants like animals and shoot them up with powerful anti-psychotic drugs."
The motion comes as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in June on behalf of the Sengalese man and another deportee who was forcibly drugged during the deportation process.
The ACLU contends the practice may constitute torture and violates both the Bill of Rights and federal law regarding the medical treatment of detainees.
© 2007 The Associated Press