Approximately fifty Sikh migrants got detained at the US-Mexico border by the authorities. The detainment of Indian migrants has been happening for the past couple of months. This time, many Sikh migrants had their turbans confiscated by the border patrol officials.
Wearing a headgear called ‘turban’ and growing out their hair is a sacred custom of Sikh people. However, in a completely unprovoked situation, the officials confiscated the migrants’ turbans. They also didn’t provide a clear explanation for their actions. Apart from the turbans, their luggage was away without the assurance of replacement.
This is not a new occurrence. CBP statistics show that, since October 2021, US-Mexico border patrol officials have detained almost 13,000 Indians. In addition, there were also a lot of Sikh people hailing from Punjab. At the Yuma Sector of the Border Patrol, 10,000 of the above-mentioned migrants detained. The Yuma Sector stretches from the Imperial Sand Dunes of California to the border area between Yuma and Pima counties of Arizona.
A six-year-old girl, an Indian citizen from Punjab, died near Lukeville, Arizona, in 2019. After investigating, the US authorities said the mother left the girl with other migrants to go and fetch water. The girl reportedly suffered a heat stroke due to the 45-degree heat.
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has said to the BBC that the act of turban confiscation by Sikh migrants violates federal law. It also diverges from the no-discrimination policies that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has. The ACLU, on August 1, sent a letter to the CBP Commissioner, Chris Magnus, calling this act a continual and severe violation of religious freedom.
Lawyer Vanessa Pineda of ACLU told the BBC that there was no explanation about the possible security concerns by migrants. She also shared how unacceptable and dehumanizing the whole situation is. Commissioner Chris Magnus replied that the Border Patrol expected to treat the incoming migrants with respect. He also assured that the matter was being investigated.
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