The policy of “zero tolerance” that caused immigrant children to be separated from their families sparked such backlash that Trump abruptly reversed course Wednesday. Court documents are now showing more details about the horrific treatment those children faced.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) routinely drugs children with psychotropics without the informed consent of their parents and over the objections of the kids, according to federal court records.

“ORR routinely administers children psychotropic drugs without lawful authorization,” read a memo filed in court proceedings. “When youth object to taking such medications, ORR compels them. ORR neither requires nor asks for a parent’s consent before medicating a child, nor does it seek lawful authority to consent in parents’ stead. Instead, ORR or facility staff sign ‘consent’ forms anointing themselves with ‘authority’ to administer psychotropic drugs to confined children.”

Many of these allegations center on Shiloh Residential Treatment Center, which has a history of child deaths, physical abuse and painful restraints. The Brazoria County District Attorney urged the ORR to increase monitoring at Shiloh.

A child identified in court documents as Julio Z., who was placed at Shiloh, said staff threw him on the floor and forced him to take medication. He witnessed other children have their mouths pried open and attempts to refuse medication were ignored.

“That the only way I could get out of Shiloh was if I took the pills,” said Julio.

Another child identified as Rosa L. was forced to receive injections.

But Shiloh is one of many centers with allegations of abuse currently housing migrant children.

“It’s not specific to Shiloh,” said Holly Cooper, one of the lawyers involved in the case where these documents were filed. While only Shiloh was giving kids forced injections, forced psychotropic medication was a practice at every facility where unaccompanied minors were sent.

Clonazepam, Duloxetine, Guanfacine, Geodon, Olanzapine, Latuda and Divalproex were all named in the court documents, and are used to treat mental health issues ranging from bipolar disorder and depression to schizophrenia and seizures. The injected medicines were not identified.

Shiloh still had twenty minors in its care as of May.


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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