Six migrants on hunger strike at an immigration detention centre in Texas are being force-fed.
Immigration officials are using plastic nasal tubes to feed the men, which family members say are causing severe nosebleeds and vomiting.
The detainees are refusing food over conditions at El Paso Processing Center, the Associated Press reports.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says a federal judge authorised the force-feeding this month.
AP says the detainees, mainly from India and Cuba, went on hunger strike to protest against guards verbally abusing them and threatening to deport them.
They are also protesting against the length of time they are being detained while they await legal proceedings.
As well as the detainees in El Paso, another four men are on hunger strike in Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco, ICE says.
When a person is force-fed through the nose, a lubricated tube is pushed through the nostril until it reaches the throat. Liquid food is then pumped into the stomach.
ICE spokeswoman, Leticia Zamarripa, told AP that a federal court had approved the use of force-feeding against the hunger strikers in mid-January, about two weeks after detainees started refusing food.
Officials say that the force-feeding is for the migrants’ own health and safety, as going without food for long periods of time can leave people at risk of long-term physical and mental health conditions.
But the relatives of the detainees say they are suffering more because of the force-feeding.
A spokesman for the World Medical Association – which is officially partnered with the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association – told BBC News it remained against force-feeding.
“Forced feeding is never ethically acceptable,” the organisation says in its declaration on hunger strikers. “Even if intended to benefit [the detainee], feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.”
Source : BBC