Readers React: Drugging an immigrant child in U.S. custody is immoral. The Trump administration must be held accountable

1809 Family Reunification
Erik Castillo, 12, smiles as he is greeted by his aunt, center, and his mother and grandmother in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
(James Rodriguez / For The Times)

To the editor: Erik Castillo, a 12-year-old-child, arrived home in Guatemala after four months of illegal detention in the U.S. Relatives noticed that his behavior was not normal. He was hospitalized for depression while in custody, and he appears to have been given the drug risperidone.

Erik said he was given medication while in the U.S. to quiet him down. We don’t know if his unusual behavior now that he is home is a result of respiridone exposure, but we do know that the drug is not used to treat depression.

There are other serious issues. First, Erik was medicated without parental consent while being held against his will and against the will of his parents; second, risperadone has potential serious and sometimes permanent side effects; third, it is an illegal act, not to mention an immoral one.

Bottom line, the persons responsible for ordering and administering drugs to incarcerated minors must be held accountable. This includes President Trump.


Michael Gross, MD, Woodland Hills

The writer is a psychiatrist.


To the editor: Recently I received an email from a friend who lives in Louisiana. He called me a crybaby because I expressed disapproval of separating children from their parents; he saw nothing wrong with doing this.


This friend is no fool. He happens to be an attorney with a doctorate from a top-tier university.

Your article about Erik Castillo moved me from figuratively being a crybaby to actually being a crybaby. But my friend’s email reminded me that there are many people in our country who simply accept anything that Trump does, no questions asked. I pity these people.

Karl F. Schmid, Los Angeles

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