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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/22/18

Immigrant children tied down, hooded, beaten, stripped and drugged

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Even younger children were targeted for abuse at a Texas facility operated under contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to a report published by the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Texas TribuneTuesday. The allegations were further detailed in a court suit filed by the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law.

The lawsuit charges that the Shiloh Treatment Center in Manvel, Texas administered psychotropic drugs to immigrant children, who in some cases were separated from their parents at the border. Neither the children, some as young as nine years old, nor the parents gave consent to the treatment, and in some cases, children were forcibly drugged as they fought and screamed.

One report reads: "Some children held at Shiloh reported being given up to nine different pills in the morning and six in the evening, including antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, Parkinson's disease medication and seizure medications. They were told they would remain detained if they refused drugs, the lawsuit said. Children also said that after taking the drugs, they experienced side effects that rendered them fatigued and incapable of walking."

The lawsuit charges: "ORR routinely administers children psychotropic drugs without lawful authorization... 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."

The seven pills named in the court filings -- clonazepam, duloxetine, guanfacine, Geodon, olanzapine, Latuda and divalproex -- are medications used to control depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, mood disorders, schizophrenia and seizures. This treatment amounted to applying "chemical straitjackets" to subdue the children, rather than meeting medical needs, the lawsuit charges.

According to the investigative reporting, the ORR paid $3.4 billion to private organizations to hold immigrant children, and nearly half of this, $1.5 billion, went to 13 companies that had been accused of hundreds of serious violations of their responsibility to provide care. These included failure to obtain medical treatment for accidents or illness, "inappropriate contact" between children and staff (apparently of a sexual nature), and neglect.

These reports of horrific treatment of innocent children do not just expose the savagery and sadism of individual guards, administrators and other officials, or the greed of corporate bosses seeking to join in the orgy of profiteering from federal contracts for the detention and abuse of immigrants. What is revealed above all is the criminal character of the American political elite, both Democrats and Republicans, who have deliberately encouraged an atmosphere of brutality and terror as their preferred method of "deterring" immigrants from crossing the US-Mexico border. The responsibility, moreover, rests not just with the sociopathic bully in the White House today, but also with his Democratic predecessor, responsible for more deportations than any previous president.

Obama's Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson declared that the jailing of Central American refugees seeking asylum, and the separation of parents and children, would have a positive effect in reducing the sudden influx of refugees in 2014. It was Terry McAuliffe, the longtime crony of Hillary Clinton, who presided over the torture of immigrant teenagers at Shenandoah from 2014 to 2017.

The shift from Obama to Trump has not fundamentally changed the policy of the US ruling class towards immigrants, which has always been of an anti-democratic and brutal character. But in the hands of Trump and his fascistic aide Stephen Miller, the brutality has become more systematic, and it is accompanied by a campaign aimed at whipping up anti-immigrant racism and hysteria over the purported danger that the United States will be "overrun," as Trump claimed in his speech Wednesday night to a rally in Minnesota.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, the Trump administration awarded multiple contracts involving tens of millions of dollars earlier this year to build detention facilities for children. This confirms that the mass separation of children from their parents, which followed the announcement of the "zero tolerance" policy by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was not an unexpected byproduct of the new policy, but was planned and deliberate. It is a premeditated crime, the state kidnapping of more than 2,400 children, for which Trump, Sessions, Stephen Miller, Kirstjen Nielsen and other top officials should be prosecuted and jailed.

Far from abandoning this policy -- as media reports on the executive order issued by Trump Wednesday suggested -- the White House is preparing to accelerate the mass detention of immigrants, including children. A Pentagon spokesman said Thursday that military bases in Texas and Arkansas had been reviewed as possible locations for housing as many as 20,000 immigrant children, double the number currently in custody.

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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).
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