Illegal immigration: 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, held at Oregon detention centre in US
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Illegal immigration: 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, held at Oregon detention centre in US

cities Updated: Jun 20, 2018 12:48 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

A group of 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, has been held at a detention centre in the US State of Oregon for being part of a large contingent of illegal immigrants seeking asylum, an American lawmaker has said.

The Indians form the largest group of detainees in the total 123 illegal immigrants being held at a facility in Sheridan.

The detention centre was recently visited by a group of Democratic lawmakers from the Oregon State, who later told the media about the alleged inhuman condition of the illegal immigrants. The immigrants are seeking asylum in the US.

“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,” Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said.

“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 Congresswoman said.

The Indian detainees pointed out that the other non-immigrant prisoners get far more time out of cells, she said.

Most of the detainees at the federal facility are asking for asylum because they experienced violence or persecution in their home countries, Bonamici said.

Several had travelled to the border with a wife and a child or children; none knew where their family members are, she said.

“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 centre.

He alleged that President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have doubled down on their anti-immigrant, xenophobic agenda with the administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 12:47 IST