Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Federal judge orders the administration to transfer immigrant children out of facility after abuse allegations

Yesterday a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to transfer all immigrant minors out of a detention facility in Texas due to allegations of abuse and over-medication against the children.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled that conditions at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Manvel, Texas, violate a 1997 court settlement that dictates how the government must care for minors who entered the country illegally on their own or were separated from their parents.

Gee ruled that employees at the facility, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, administered psychotropic drugs to minors without their parents’ consent, kept some minors in overly-restrictive confinement, and forbade minors from making private phone calls. She also ruled that facility operators often went overboard in their detainment and punishment of the minors, in one case repeatedly denying water to a boy.

The judge did not shut down the facility, but ordered a series of changes to improve living conditions. From now on operators must “comply with all Texas child welfare laws and regulations,” including a requirement that a legal guardian must sign off on any psychotropic drugs given to the child. The facility must allow for private phone calls and allow minors more free time.

Monday’s ruling from Judge Gee was a relief to the immigration advocacy groups that have long complained about the conditions of minors in custody, especially at the Shiloh facility.

“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,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.