Border Patrol threw away ‘hundreds’ of Sikh migrants’ turbans and told them they could ‘starve’: report

Border Patrol threw away ‘hundreds’ of Sikh migrants’ turbans and told them they could ‘starve’: report

The abuse of Sikh migrants at the US-Mexico border is reported to be much more widespread than previously thought.

US Customs and Border Patrol agents in multiple sectors allegedly trashed hundreds of sacred turbans belonging to Sikh border crossers, and denied migrants religiously mandated vegetarian meals, instead consigning them to apple juice and crackers or tell them they might “starve. ,” according to an investigation from the Luminaria Arizonaciting unnamed border aid workers familiar with the court.

“One Sikh man, when I gave him a turban to cover his hair, started crying and kissed the fabric,” one person told the outlet, recalling that “a group of vegetarian Sikhs said they were living from apple juice and biscuits for seven days.”

Aid workers have taken to buying lengths of cloth themselves so migrants can make themselves new turbans.

The new allegations are part of previous complaints about the Border Patrol’s treatment of Sikh migrants.

Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote to the agency, highlighting “serious violations of religious freedom” in at least 64 cases in the Yuma border sector over the past two months, according to the legal organization.

“By confiscating and failing to return Sikh people’s turbans, CBP directly interferes with their religious practice and forces them to violate their religious beliefs,” the ACLU wrote in an Aug. 1 letter to the agency, noting official Border Patrol policy officials said. “remain aware of the person’s religious beliefs when conducting enforcement action in a dignified and respectful manner.”

Sikh migrants, many of whom are fleeing persecution in India from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, described the treatment as humiliating.

“They told me to take off my turban. I know a little English, and I said, ‘It is my religion.’ But they insisted,” one man told the Intercept, which first reported on the ACLU letter. Agents even insisted on cutting off the man’s traditional Sikh underwear, apparently for security reasons.

“I felt so bad,” the man said.

The Border Patrol said earlier this week that it was opening an internal investigation into the allegations and was taking unspecified steps “to address the situation.”

“It is our expectation that CBP employees treat all immigrants we encounter with respect,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus he said in an emailed statement earlier this week.

In June, an ombudsman from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Border Patrol, visited a facility in Phoenix and was informed of complaints of religious abuse, according to the ACLU.

“We are talking about Sikh migrants specifically who are fleeing their countries due to religious persecution … who make a very traumatic journey to the United States, and upon arrival are forced to remove a sacred piece of their religion, a key tenet of their belief system,” Vanessa Pineda, an immigrant rights staff attorney for the ACLU in Arizona, said CNN.

Such reporting indicates that the agency has been aware of the problem for weeks with no apparent change.

“We take allegations of this nature very seriously,” said the Border Patrol The Independent in a statement.

He declined to answer what specific steps were taken to remedy the abuse claims, or when the internal investigation would be completed.

Last year, The Independent reported that the first person killed in a post-9/11 hate crime was a Sikh man named Balbir Singh Sodhi, who owned a gas station in Arizona. Sodhi was shot by a racist gunman on September 15, 2001, the same day the business owner donated to the 9/11 relief fund.

Since then, Sikhs have been the target of other hate incidents, and have also been identified for placement in immigration databases and invasive screening at US airports.

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