Jalandhar, August 4
The US authorities are investigating claims of human rights activists that turbans of nearly 50 Sikh asylum seekers were confiscated after they were detained along the Mexican border.
According to human rights activists, nearly 50 Sikh migrants have had their religious headgear taken away by Border Patrol agents recently. Reports of confiscation of turbans of Sikh asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border have angered the Sikh community back home.
“We take allegations of this nature very seriously,” Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus was quoted as saying in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday.
The North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) has written to the US Department of Homeland Security, raising objections on the treatment of Sikh asylum seekers. In a letter to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus, NAPA Executive Director Satnam Singh Chahal has sought “immediate and concrete steps to end all such confiscations in Yuma and all other sectors” and has also demanded that these “civil rights violations” be investigated.
He has also sought that directions be issued to the Yuma Border Patrol Sector “to immediately cease these unlawful practices”.
In his letter, Chahal says: “We write to inform you of ongoing, serious religious-freedom violations in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector, where your agents are confiscating turbans from Sikh individuals during asylum processing. These practices blatantly violate federal law. They are also inconsistent with CBP’s own national standards and contrary to the agency’s non-discrimination policy, which states that CBP employees must treat all individuals with dignity and respect with full respect for individual rights including, freedom of religion.”
The letter further states: “We ask that you promptly investigate these civil rights violations and direct agents in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector to immediately cease these unlawful practices.”
Chahal added that concerns about Border Patrol’s confiscation of religious headgear were not new.
In March 2019 too, the American Civil Liberties Union had raised the issue of “many Sikh immigrants have had their turbans and sacred religious bracelets confiscated at the border.”
Religious freedom violated
We write to inform you of ongoing, serious religious freedom violations in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector, where your agents are confiscating turbans from Sikh individuals during asylum processing. — Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director, North American Punjabi Association
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