Over 50 Indians Among Dozens of Immigrants Detained in U.S.

52 Indians are among the 123 immigrants detained by American authorities in Oregon over allegations of illegal entry in the country.


As many as 52 immigrants of Indian origin are among the people detained by American authorities in Oregon over allegations of illegal entry in the country, an American politician has disclosed. A total of 123 illegal immigrants are being held at the Sheridan prison in Yamhill county in the U.S. state, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici wrote in her blog.

The Indian embassy in the United States is following up on the issue, and trying to get in touch with the Indian inmates, The Hindu reported, citing an official.

A group of Democratic lawmakers from the Oregon State visited the facility on June 16, following which they revealed the alleged inhuman conditions under which the immigrants are being housed. “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,” Bonamici said, PTI reported. “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,” she wrote, adding that the Indian immigrants said that the other non-immigrant prisoners get far more time out of cells.

The Punjabi community in the region has got in touch with the local authorities to get access to these immigrants, the Indian Express reported. “Several faith leaders attended a vigil organized by the community on June 18 and offered prayers for those detained with little access to translators,” the publication quoted Harbkash Singh Mangat, president of Sikh Center of Oregon (Portland Metro Gurudwara), as saying.

“Over the last month, 123 immigrants seeking asylum have been detained and transferred to Oregon’s Sheridan federal prison in Yamhill County. The majority of the 123 people in the Sheridan prison are South Asian, who speak primarily Hindi and Punjabi, and a few [are] identified as Chinese,” The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) said in a statement.

About 70 of the detained immigrants are reported to be South Asians, and include people from Nepal and Bangladesh.

The detainees were brought from California, Texas and Oregon, the Hindu cited Bahadur Singh, chairman, Ghadar Memorial Foundation, Oregon, as saying.

The detainees are among the hundreds of asylum-seekers held by authorities after U.S. President Donald Trump launched a “zero tolerance” immigration policy in May. The move has met with outcries by human rights activists over the separation of children from families trying to enter the country. Under the policy, illegal immigrants can be criminally prosecuted under federal court.

“I am extremely concerned about their children, especially young children, and their families… It’s abhorrent and it must stop now,” Bonamici wrote in her blog.

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