Photo: AP

The story just keeps getting worse.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in late April alleges that a private shelter in Texas forcibly injected immigrant children separated from their parents with drugs to sedate them, an investigation published Wednesday from Reveal and the Texas Tribune found.

According to court filings, undocumented children in U.S. custody were injected with powerful psychiatric drugs, making them “dizzy, listless, obese and even incapacitated.”

As Reveal reports (emphasis added throughout):

Children held at Shiloh Treatment Center, a government contractor south of Houston that houses undocumented immigrant minors, described being held down and injected, according to federal court filings. The lawsuit alleges that children were told they would not be released or see their parents unless they took medication and that they only were receiving vitamins.

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These companies hired by the U.S. government to house detained children continue to be paid handsomely for their work—an industry that will only keep growing if this policy persists.

Reveal also found that, over the past four years, the U.S. government has awarded $1.5 billion in taxpayer money to companies running private detention centers that face serious allegations of neglect, sexual, and physical abuse:

Allegations included staff members’ failure to seek medical attention for children. One had a burn, another a broken wrist, a third a sexually transmitted disease. In another shelter, staff gave a child medicine to which she was allergic, despite a warning on her medical bracelet. Inspectors also cited homes for “inappropriate contact” between children and staff, including a case in which a staff member gave children a pornographic magazine.

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The report also found that Southwest Key Programs—one of the main contractors the government has hired to care for immigrant children in detention centers—has its own history of neglect and abuse violations:

In October, an employee appeared drunk when he showed up to work at a facility operated by Southwest Key Programs in San Benito, Texas. A drug test later found the he was over the legal alcohol limit to drive. That was among the 246 violations state inspectors found at Southwest Key’s facilities, including rotten bananas and shampoo dispensers filled with hand sanitizer.

Representatives for Southwest Key Programs, which also operates a converted Walmart in Brownsville as a shelter for more than 1,000 children, did not return phone calls and an email seeking comment.

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Let’s say it plainly: These are crimes against humanity. This is child abuse on a massive scale, perpetuated and endorsed by the Trump administration. These families are being ripped apart and punished, with their children put through psychological torture, all in the name of enforcing a “law” which is not even a law. This must end.