Amidst a wider crackdown on illegal immigrants, the border control authorities have held a group of 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, at a detention centre in the US State of Oregon. According to a US lawmaker, the arrested Indians were part of a large contingent of illegal immigrants seeking asylum, reported the PTI.
“Through our Punjabi translator, we learned that these men were planning to request asylum because they faced severe religious persecution in India. Most are Sikh or Christian. Instead they were incarcerated in a federal prison,” the news agency quoted the lawmaker as saying.
The Congresswoman added, “They said they came to the United States for religious freedom, but they felt as if they were ‘going crazy’ because they are being confined in small cells for up to 22 hours a day.”
The Indians form the largest group of detainees in the total of 123 illegal immigrants being held at a facility in Sheridan. A team of Democratic lawmakers had recently visited the detention centre. He described the despicable and inhuman condition under which they were kept.
This comes just a day after Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed his deep anguish over the rampant incidents of children being forcibly separated from their parents by the US authorities. Using the hashtag #keepfamiliestogether, the Google CEO wrote on Twitter, “The stories and images of families being separated at the border are gut-wrenching. Urging our government to work together to find a better, more humane way that is reflective of our values as a nation.”
The issue has dominated the political narrative in the US with an overwhelming population condemning Trump for his inhumane action.
The detainees from India is the largest group of detainees being held in Sheridan, wrote Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici on her blog post. She along with several other Democratic lawmakers from the State visited the detention centre on Saturday.
She wrote, “The next group we spoke with was from India. This is the largest group of detainees being held in Sheridan. Through our Punjabi translator, we learned that these men were planning to request asylum because they faced severe religious persecution in India. Most are Sikh or Christian. Instead they were incarcerated in a federal prison. They said they came to the United States for religious freedom, but they felt as if they were “going crazy” because they are being confined in small cells for up to 22 hours a day. (They pointed out that the other non-immigrant prisoners get far more time out of cells.) ”
She said that many had travelled to the border with a wife and a child or children; none knew where their family members are.
“This is a shameful hour in US history. I don’t care what your stance on immigration is, no one should favour ripping children out of their parents’ arms ….” Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer told reporters after visiting the detention center.
US immigration officials said that as many as 2,342 children had been separated from 2,206 parents from 5 May to 9 June amid a “zero-tolerance” crackdown on illegal immigration brought in by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Last month, the US administration publicly announced its decision to charge every adult caught crossing the border illegally with federal crimes, as opposed to referring those with children mainly to immigration courts.