Immigrant advocacy groups may have celebrated on June 26 when a federal judge in California gave U.S. immigration authorities 30 days to reunite families separated at the Mexican border. While officials were struggling to meet this deadline, the Trump administration suffered another legal setback in Texas. On July 30, a district court judge ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer all of the children being detained at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center to other facilities. The judge made her ruling after hearing that children at the Manvel facility were being abused and overmedicated with psychotropic drugs.
The judge determined that conditions at Shiloh failed to meet standards for the care of undocumented minors established by a 1997 court settlement. Facility operators are said to have denied water to some children and prevented others from making phone calls. The judge also heard that many children were being given powerful drugs without their parents' consent. A DHHS representative said that secure immigrant detention facilities like Shiloh were needed to cope with minors who pose a threat to themselves or others or are coping with serious mental health issues.
However, the judge stopped short of ordering the facility shut down. Instead, she ruled that a series of changes be implemented to improve conditions for detainees and prevent any further abuse. Facility staff were ordered to comply with all state child welfare laws and obtain authorization from parents or legal guardians before administering any psychotropic drugs.
Those who enter the Unites States illegally face an uncertain future even if they avoid detection at the border. Attorneys with immigration law experience could explain the various legal paths to a new life in America, and they could also advocate on behalf of undocumented workers who are facing removal proceedings.
Source: USA Today, "Judge orders minors transferred out of immigration detention facility", Alan Gomez, July 31, 2018