WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., expressed gratitude Tuesday that homeland security officials are now forbidding the forced drugging of immigration detainees without a court order after he raised questions about involuntary drugging during consideration of the nomination of Julie Myers to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A January 9, 2008, ICE memo released over the weekend states that, without exception, a court order would be required before detainees can be forcibly sedated prior to their deportation.
Lieberman discovered last year that ICE had permitted forced administration of anti-psychotic drugs to immigration detainees to facilitate their removal from the country. The Senator questioned ICE Assistant Secretary Myers on the matter after a September 2007 nomination hearing. In written questions, he asked Myers to explain how the policy was consistent with ICE’s own standards for handling detainees, which state “medication shall not be used to subdue an uncooperative detainee for staff convenience. Medication must be prescribed and administered by licensed medical personnel, for Medical purposes only.” The Senator also asked whether Myers would consider ending the practice until a full evaluation could be conducted.
Shortly thereafter, Myers announced that ICE would drug detainees involuntarily only in the event of an emergency. Subsequently, ICE revised its policy to require a court order in all cases.
“I applaud the shift in ICE policy and I am pleased that the Homeland Security Committee could play a small part in persuading ICE to adopt a humane approach and prohibit involuntary drugging of detainees,” Lieberman said. “Assistant Secretary Julie Myers has done the right thing in abandoning a policy that flew in the face of ICE’s own standards for treating detainees.”
“ICE must now take all necessary steps to train personnel at detention facilities around the nation in proper protocols to ensure compliance with the new standard.”