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Abuse of Sikh immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is reportedly far more common than previously thought.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in multiple departments allegedly threw hundreds of sacred headscarves belonging to Sikh transiters into the bin and rejected the religiously mandated vegetarian diet for migrants, instead giving them apple juice and cookies, or tell them they might ‘starve to death,'” according to one from the survey Luminaria, Arizonaciting unnamed border aid workers familiar with the abuse.

“A Sikh, when I handed him a turban to cover his hair, he started crying and kissing the fabric,” one person told the outlet, recalling that “a group of vegetarian Sikhs said they lived on apple juice and cookies. 7 days.”

Aid workers have started buying their own cloth strips so migrants can make new headscarves for themselves.

The new charges join previous complaints about how the Border Patrol treats Sikh migrants.

Earlier this week, the ACLU sent a letter to the agency highlighting at least 64 “serious violations of religious freedom” in the Yuma border area over the past two months, according to the legal group.

In an Aug. 1 letter to the agency, the ACLU wrote: “By confiscating and not returning Sikhs’ headscarves, CBP directly interfered with their religious practices and forced them to violate their religious beliefs. ,” and noted that the official Border Patrol policy is for officers to “maintain awareness of one’s religious beliefs while completing law enforcement operations with dignity and respect.”

Sikh immigrants, many of whom are fleeing persecution by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu ethnic Bharatiya Janata Party, described humiliating treatment.

“They made me take off my hijab. I knew a little English and I said, ‘This is my religion. “But they held on,” a man told The Intercept, which first reported the ACLU’s letter. The agents even insisted on cutting off the man’s traditional Sikh underwear, ostensibly for safety reasons.

“I feel bad,” the man said.

The Border Patrol said earlier this week that it was conducting an internal investigation into the allegations and was taking unspecified steps “to resolve the situation.”

“Our expectation is that CBP employees respect all immigrants we encounter,” CBP commissioner Chris Magnus said in an emailed statement earlier this week.

In June, an inspector from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Border Patrol, visited a Phoenix facility and was informed of complaints of religious abuse, according to the ACLU.

“We’re talking about Sikh immigrants who have fled their country especially because of religious persecution… a very painful journey to the United States and then forced to remove sacred parts of their religion upon entry , which is the core principle of their belief system,” Vanessa Pineda, an immigration rights staff attorney with the ACLU of Arizona, tell CNN.

Such reports suggest the agency has been aware of the problem for weeks without any noticeable change.

“We take allegations of this nature very seriously,” the Border Patrol told independent in a statement.

It declined to answer what specific steps were taken to correct allegations of abuse, or when the internal investigation was completed.

last year, independent report The first person killed in a post-9/11 hate crime was a Sikh named Balbir Singh Sodhi, who owned a gas station in Arizona. Sodhi was shot and killed by a racist gunman on September 15, 2001, the same day the business owner donated to the 9/11 Relief Fund.

Since then, Sikhs have been the target of other hate incidents and have also been singled out for immigration databases and invasive screenings at U.S. airports.



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