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Migrant children forcibly given psychotropic drugs at US detention centres, claims a lawsuit

A series of heartbreaking investigative stories published on Wednesday by a news source highlight the disturbing conditions many undocumented children have been allegedly forced to endure in privately run shelters set up to house them as they await proceedings to determine whether they can stay in the country.

One of the more gruesome details reveal that the staff working for the Office of Refugee Resettlement after US President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy came into effect have been injecting migrant children with psychotropic drugs without their parent’s consent to make them dizzy, listless, obese and even incapacitated.

The filings are part of a lawsuit filed in April against the federal government for alleged mistreatment of children sent to Shiloh and other detention centers. The timeline of incidents appear to predate the recent trend of children forcibly separated from their parents at the border and mostly concerns children deemed unaccompanied minors who hoped to join a parent or guardian in the US.

“If you’re in Shiloh then it’s almost certain you are on these medications. So if any child were placed in Shiloh after being separated from a parent, then they’re almost certainly on psychotropics,” said Carlos Holguin, a lawyer representing the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law.

Most of the drugs mentioned in the lawsuit, such as olanzapine and quetiapine, are antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. But there are also drugs like prazosin, used to treat high blood pressure, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety, and benzodiazepines like clonazepam, a tranquilizer used to manage seizures and panic attacks.

As mentioned in the lawsuit, one child said that they were asked to take up to nine pills in the morning and another seven in the evening without knowing what the medication was. Parents and the children themselves told attorneys the drugs rendered them unable to walk, afraid of people and wanting to sleep constantly, according to affidavits filed April 23 in US District Court in California.

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