Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

child

A federal judge ruled Monday that a Texas facility for unaccompanied migrant children and those forcibly separated from their families must stop administering psychotropic drugs without parental consent. (Photo: Shutterstock)

'That This Even Has to Be Said Is Grotesque': Judge Orders Trump Admin to Stop Drugging Migrant Children

"Children are suffering abusive treatment and cruel and inhumane conditions in government detention centers."

Jessica Corbett

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of Los Angeles ruled on Monday that a Texas detention center for unaccompanied migrant children and those forcibly separated from their families by the Trump administration must stop administering psychotropic drugs without parental consent.

"A federal court has now confirmed what we already knew: Children are suffering abusive treatment and cruel and inhumane conditions in government detention centers. Children belong with their families, not scared, alone, and subject to abuse in prison-like conditions."
—Jess Morales Rocketto, Families Belong Together

"A federal court has now confirmed what we already knew: Children are suffering abusive treatment and cruel and inhumane conditions in government detention centers," responded Jess Morales Rocketto of Families Belong Together, a coalition of groups opposing the administration's family separation policy. "Children belong with their families, not scared, alone, and subject to abuse in prison-like conditions."

As Common Dreams reported last month, court filings alleged that children detained at the nonprofit Shiloh Treatment Center near Houston were forced to take drugs such as Clonazepam, Divalproex, Benztropine, and Duloxetine—used to treat seizures, Parkinson's disease, and depression—which led them to feel "dizzy, lethargic, and even incapacitated."

Although immigrant rights advocates welcomed Gee's ruling, which found that Shiloh staff had violated the state's child welfare laws, as one attorney unaffiliated with the case put it, "That this even has to be said is grotesque."

Sports journalist Craig Calcaterra tweeted a link to the Washington Post's coverage, commenting:

Gee ordered that the government must obtain parental consent before giving psychotropic drugs to a detained minor, and if a parent is unavailable to grant permission, officials may only administer such medication "on an emergency basis" or under a court order, according to NBC News. She also ruled that all children involved in the class-action lawsuit must be removed from the contracted facility "unless a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist" determines that a particular child "poses a risk of harm to self or others."

Shiloh is a secure detention center, the most restrictive option for housing migrant children. Under the 1997 Flores agreement, there is a limit on how long a child can be detained and the government is required to hold them in the "least restrictive" setting that can provide for their individual needs. As the Post pointed out:

The facility also has a history of troubling practices, including allegations of child abuse, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. A local congresswoman called for Shiloh to be shut down four years ago after the Houston Chronicle reported on long-running allegations of physical violence, excessive use of physical restraints, and several deaths of children in custody.

A doctor at Shiloh who has signed off on many prescriptions for psychotropic drugs to immigrant children has practiced without board certification to treat children and adolescents for nearly a decade, the Center for Investigative Reporting found.

As of Sunday, more than 700 migrant children remained separated from their asylum-seeking parents, CNN reported, despite a court order for a separate lawsuit which mandated that the Trump administration reunite all separated families by last Thursday.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Harris Says White House Not 'Discussing' Use of Federal Land for Abortion Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among the Democratic lawmakers who have expressed support for the idea as GOP-controlled states move to outlaw abortion.

Jake Johnson ·


Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo