American Turban

Sikh asylum-seekers protest detention in El Paso, TX

Screenshot of list of detainees held at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in El Paso, Texas. (Source: Colorlines)

Screenshot of list of detainees held at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in El Paso, Texas. (Source: Colorlines)

The website Colorlines provides a report about a protest by 40 asylum-seekers in detention at a facility in El Paso, Texas, operated by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Many of these individuals are of Indian nationality with Sikh names, and they have been incarcerated for months (nod to Meeta Kaur for the link):

Colorlines has obtained a document smuggled out of the detention facility that lists 32 Indian men who have passed their credible fear interview but remain in detention nonetheless. Some entered in May 2013, were granted an interview and established credible fear the same month. Yet seven months later, these 32 men remain in detention, without any indication of when they will be paroled.

While the duration of the incarceration seems inexplicable, the detention of such Sikhs in Texas is not so unusual, as the route through South and Central America into the United States has become a pipeline for undocumented migrants from India, particularly from the state of Punjab. A 2011 article in The Los Angeles Times shed light on the emerging trend:

Reporting from Harlingen, Texas — Thousands of immigrants from India have crossed into the United States illegally at the southern tip of Texas in the last year, part of a mysterious and rapidly growing human-smuggling pipeline that is backing up court dockets, filling detention centers and triggering investigations.

The immigrants, mostly young men from poor villages, say they are fleeing religious and political persecution. More than 1,600 Indians have been caught since the influx began here early last year, while an undetermined number, perhaps thousands, are believed to have sneaked through undetected, according to U.S. border authorities.

The indefinite length of detention of these immigrants is made more alarming given the conditions under which many have been placed by immigration officials, including solitary confinement or extended periods of isolation.

Read more about the protest in El Paso, Texas, at Colorlines.

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