Shiloh Treatment Center, shown in an aerial photograph, is on the same campus as the Daystar Residential Inc. facility, which the state of Texas shut down in 2011. A judge has ordered immigrant children removed from Shiloh and told the government to stop drugging them without consent. Credit: Brandon Wade for Reveal

More than a week after a judge ordered that immigrant children staying at a troubled Texas facility should be moved, 28 children affected by the ruling remain at the Shiloh Treatment Center, Reveal has learned.

The children’s fate is now in the hands of lawyers who must come up with a plan for their evaluations and housing by Friday, the deadline set by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee last week.

“The parties shall meet and confer to determine a reasonable time frame in which such transfers can be effectuated and the procedures ORR shall undertake to ensure that these transfers do not disrupt the continuity of care and the health of each Class Member,” Gee wrote in her order.

Attorney Holly Cooper, the co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California, Davis, responded by email to several questions posed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Cooper said 28 children are currently at the center, and that lawyers representing the children are “awaiting finalization of our discussions with the feds” regarding the plan.

“Discussions are happening about the plan,” said Lewis Cohen, a communications director for the National Center for Youth Law, one of the organizations representing the children in the case.

Reveal reported earlier this summer that immigrant children reported being held down and injected with psychiatric drugs with serious side effects, including dizziness and weight gain, according to federal court filings.

Gee’s July 30 order says:

  • The federal government will transfer all immigrant children to less restrictive housing unless a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist has determined that a child “poses a risk of harm to self or others.”
  • The children can’t be denied drinking water and must be allowed access to private phone calls. (Some children housed at Shiloh alleged they were denied water and private calls as a disciplinary measure.)
  • Children also can’t be medicated without either a parent’s consent or a court order, or without following Texas law on administering such drugs on an emergency basis.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent a fact sheet to Reveal detailing how the Office of Refugee Resettlement “prevents and acts on allegations of abuse and neglect in ORR grantee-funded facilities.”

“While there is ongoing litigation regarding Shiloh RTC, it is important to note that all treatment occurs under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist, and UAC that are admitted to Shiloh have performed serious acts such as suicidal attempts, or have engaged in behavior such as biting, spitting, kicking, hitting and throwing objects at peers and staff, and sexually inappropriate behavior.”

A Reveal investigation posted Wednesday details a long pattern of problems at Shiloh and companion facilities operated by the same person, Clay Dean Hill. Three children died at the facilities after being restrained by workers and others alleged sexual and physical abuse. Several state reports also singled out the facilities for improper use of drugs.

It’s unclear whether any children not in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement are currently staying at Shiloh. A Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokesman said child care operations such as Shiloh are not required to report population counts. Shiloh is licensed for a maximum of 44 residents, according to state records.

Have a news tip related to immigration for Reveal? Send it to border@revealnews.org.

Laura C. Morel can be reached at lmorel@revealnews.org. Follow her on Twitter: @lauracmorel.

Laura C. Morel is a reporter for Reveal, covering immigration.

She previously was a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, where she covered criminal justice issues. She was a 2017 finalist for a Livingston Award, which recognizes young journalists, for an investigation with two other reporters into Walmart’s excessive use of police resources.

In 2016, Morel became one of Reveal’s inaugural investigative fellows. The program, aimed at increasing diversity among the ranks of investigative journalists, offers reporters embedded at their home outlets the training and mentoring to pursue an investigative project. Morel’s fellowship project exposed the extent of Florida’s gun theft problem.

Born and raised in Miami, Morel is fluent in Spanish. She is based in St. Petersburg, Florida.