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Immigrant Rights Groups Sue Department Of Justice For Giving Psychiatric Treatment To Anxious Children

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Julia Cohen Reporter

A class-action lawsuit filed against Attorney General Jeff Sessions alleges that providing psychiatric care to illegal immigrant children violates state child welfare laws.

The suit, filed in April, alleges the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) administering psychotropic drugs to children in immigrant holding facilities constitutes “utter disregard of state laws designed to support children’s mental health.”

The plaintiffs state “psychotropic drugs can have serious and sometimes irreversible side effects.” Psychotropic drugs, however, refer to almost all drugs that treat psychiatric issues. These include antidepressants, anxiety medications and antipsychotics. More than 7 million children in the United States took prescription psychiatric medication in 2017 alone, according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

In one of the cases in the class-action suit, the plaintiffs opposed giving psychotropic anxiety medications to a child for whom “being locked up for several months has made her be more anxious.”

The suit also alleges that the ORR is illegally giving children medication because “both the law and common decency demand that parents decide whether their children should be medicated.” (RELATED: Obama Rips Trump On Family Separation But Ignores His Own Record)

However, under this logic, parents would be required to make all medical decisions for their children, which could provide children in ORR custody from receiving adequate and timely care.

The class action plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law, the National Center for Youth Law and University of California, Davis.

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