ACLU says Border Patrol agents are confiscating Sikh men

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union criticized what they said was illegal and a “serious violation of religious freedom” and demanded that US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus investigate.

The letter, sent August 1 and first reported by The Interceptalleging that 64 such cases have been reported in the Yuma field of the Border Patrol Force so far – mainly in the past two months – by Sikh asylum seekers who have been released and sought help at a welcome center in Phoenix.
Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, according to the Sikh Unionand more than 500,000 Americans are Sikhs.
Devoted Sikh men don’t cut their hair or shave because they believe you have to maintain your body the way God made you. Turbans are worn as a way to keep the head from being respected when in public and in religious spaces.
Sikhs are suing the US Marines over their right to wear turbines and grow beards
“By confiscating and failing to return the turbines of Sikh individuals, CBP directly interferes with their religious practice and forces them to violate their religious beliefs,” the ACLU letter reads, note the importance of agency policy requires officers to be “clearly aware of an individual’s religious beliefs while taking coercive action in a dignified and respectful manner.”

“We are talking about Sikh migrants, especially those who are fleeing their country because of religious persecution … making a very traumatic journey to the United States, and upon entry, they are forced to remove a sacred part of their religion, a core tenet of Vanessa Pineda, immigrant rights staff attorney for the ACLU of Arizona.

Pineda said partner organizations that are working directly with migrants have reported an increase in the turbines of Sikh asylum seekers. She told CNN.

CBP says it has opened an internal investigation

The CBP commissioner told CNN in a statement that an investigation is underway.

“We take allegations of this nature very seriously,” Magnus said in a statement issued to CNN. “This issue was raised in June and immediate steps were taken to resolve the situation. Our expectation is that CBP officers treat all migrants we receive with respect. encountered. An internal investigation has been opened to resolve the matter.”

The agency said it has provided additional guidance to field leaders “reiterating the expectation that staff exercise care when handling properties of a religious nature.” It also said the agency’s procedures allow its employees to remove items “that pose a clear health or safety hazard.”

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In their letter, the ACLU representative said they saw little evidence of concrete action after the issue was raised at meetings in June and July.

“We continue to see it happen. … All the local efforts that our partner organizations have made, nothing has changed. And in fact, there has been an increase in the past few months,” Pineda said.

It is possible that the actual number of people affected is higher, Pineda said, noting that human rights groups are only aware of self-reported incidents.

Migrants from many countries are showing up at the border

News of the alleged violations comes as more and more migrants from around the world are crossing the US-Mexico border in the Yuma region, where stretches 126 miles from the Royal Dunes in California to the Yuma-Pima County line in Arizona.
Migrants from multiple countries flood US-Mexico border, adding challenge to Biden administration

For years, the majority of migrants trying to cross the border came from Mexico or Central America.

“The countries that we’re taking in – those nationalities are flying to, coming to the border, and they have to be processed and there are a lot of them that are posing a challenge to the workforce. “, Yuma Border Patrol Head of Industry Chris Clem told CNN last monthnote that up to 1,000 migrants are arrested daily.
Last year, the mayor of Yuma issued a local emergency order to deal with the growing number of migrants there.
In 2019 Supporters told CNN they have seen many migrants from India, including Sikhs, arrive at the US-Mexico border and seek asylum.

CNN’s Manveena Suri, Huizhong Wu and Harmeet Kaur contributed to this report.

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