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Government-funded treatment center forcibly injected immigrant kids with drugs, lawsuit alleges

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 6/20/2018

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Migrant children, traumatized from being detained under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy, are being forcibly injected with powerful psychotropic drugs that can lead to movement disorders, cause obesity, and have other long-lasting, harmful effects on children, according to new legal filings.

Children held at Shiloh Treatment Center, a government-funded facility in Texas, described being placed on multiple psychotropic medications without their parents’ consent.

One patient was prescribed a combination of four different drugs that conflicted with professional association guidelines and is known to increase the risk of Type II diabetes, that they’ll become suicidal, and cause other cardiovascular problems, according to the legal filings.

The child’s mother was not consulted before the drugs were administered, even though she could have been reached.

Carlos Holguin, attorney for the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law argues that the center would have required either parental permission or a court order before it could legally medicate the minor.

“They claim that they need psychiatric treatment and they need to be medicated so it’s basically a unilateral decision that they make,” he told the Daily News.

He called the practice of medicating children, most of whom come from Central America, and have already suffered from traumatic events “dangerous.”

“Either they’ve watched their parents get killed, or have been raped, and then when they’re in custody and placed in a shelter facility they become more despondent and desperate to rejoin their families as time goes on,” he said.

Detention triggers psychological problems that the Office of Refugee Resettlement and its contractors then treat them for, Holguin said.

“They do it before the law allows for the involuntary medication of children, which is allowed only if they are dangerous to others.”

He said ORR dolls out medication to children who can’t sleep, for example.

One mother said her child was left unable to stand and became confined to a wheelchair.

Holguin said that all of the children with whom he met had been medicated.

Forensic psychiatrist Mark J. Mills told Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting that authorities used medication to try to control the wound-up kids.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist here; it looks like they’re trying to control agitation and aggressive behavior with antipsychotic drugs,” he said.

He said the minors’ conditions did not warrant the use of such strong medication.

“You don’t need to administer these kinds of drugs unless someone is plucking out their eyeball or some such. The facility should not use these drugs to control behavior. That’s not what antipsychotics should be used for. That’s like the old Soviet Union used to do,” he told Reveal.

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