Children being held in immigration detention have been subject to drugging without parental consent, a dangerous practice more children are likely to encounter thanks to Trump.
The decision to prosecute all border crossers and rip families apart as a result means more children have been sent to detention facilities. In some of these facilities, reports indicate drugging children to control their behavior without parental consent.
ProPublica reports that since children in the shelters are alone and unaware where their parents are, staffers at facilities have acted “unilaterally, imposing psychotropic drugs on children who don’t know what they’re taking or what its effects may be.”
Dr. Amy Cohen, a psychiatrist, told the outlet the medications are a danger to children “with growing brains and growing bodies,” and highlighted the danger parental absence can have on well-being.
Five immigrants under 18 who said they were drugged have sued Alex Azar, the current head of the Department of Health and Human Services. (Azar has taken the lead in publicly spinning the administration’s attempt to hold on to abducted children.)
The danger of unauthorized drugging is just one of many issues that are the subject of legal action.
A new court filing details horrifying allegations about how migrant children are being treated at detention centers. Hunger, dehydration, sleeplessness and “routine” physical assault are among the conditions children are allegedly being exposed to.
Peter Schey, director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, said reports from children in the centers paint a picture of “enforced hunger, enforced dehydration, enforced sleeplessness, coupled with insults and fairly routine physical assaults.”
Schey added, “It all amounts to treatment that’s probably in violation of domestic and international law.”
The Trump administration decided to break with previous Republican and Democratic administrations to implement a ‘zero tolerance’ policy that included mandatory family separations. It’s meant that thousands of people — including young children — have been forced into detention centers.
The Texas Observer reports that the families detail disgusting conditions in the facilities: “overflowing toilets, chronic sleep deprivation, lack of basic hygiene products, and air conditioning cranked so high that children shiver constantly, their clothes sometimes still wet from crossing the Rio Grande.”
A mother of two said the water they were expected to drink at the facility smelled badly: “I had to plug my nose to be able to drink it.”
A 10-year-old Honduran girl testified that in the facility she was held in there were “large numbers of girls, some of whom had to sleep on concrete and sitting up.” She was given a “frozen ham sandwich,” but “the ham was black.” She took a bite but was unable to eat the rest.
A 17-year-old Honduran boy said Border Patrol officers at the facility treated teenage migrants “worse than dogs.”
Another lawsuit, filed in federal court in Miami, alleges that an 11-year-old in an immigration center for minors was kept in a room with a bully who cracked his head open.
Geremy Asig-Putul was separated from his mother, Otilia Asig-Putul, at the border in May.
When he was bullied, the lawsuit alleges that staff at the facility told him “stop complaining.”
After a 14-year-old bully tripped Geremy, causing him to hit his head on a metal bed frame and bleed, his mother was not told. Instead he was stitched up and put back in the room with his assailant.
Otilia Asig-Putul said of her son’s treatment, “A little bit more and they would have given my son back to me in a small wooden box.”
The immigration detention system has had problems and deficiencies for some time, but now that Trump has flooded the system with families, hundreds more are in for suffering, indignity, and possibly worse.