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Border Patrol Agents Are Trashing Sikh Asylum-seekers’ Turbans


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https://theintercept.com/2022/08/02/sikh-turban-border-patrol/

BORDER PATROL AGENTS ARE TRASHING SIKH ASYLUM-SEEKERS’ TURBANS

“The turban is sacred.” At least 64 Sikh men have had their headwear confiscated and discarded by Yuma’s Border Patrol.

 


August 2 2022, 10:45 a.m.

 

GURJODH SINGH WAS leaning against a rusted vehicle barrier — planted like a giant jack in the sand — at the end of the line of migrants. It is late July, and about 400 people seeking asylum are waiting alongside a gap in the border fence as dawn breaks over the sky in southern Arizona.

Singh is 22, fleeing India for America, without any family, to seek political asylum. Slipping off the vehicle barrier, he joined a huddle of five other Indian men, all Sikhs from the state of Punjab. A Border Patrol agent told Singh he had to move to the back of the line because he didn’t have papers. The rest of the men recovered their IDs after being robbed on a grueling monthslong trek across the jungles of Panama, but Singh still has no ID.

As the minutes tick by, the sky brightens, and the temperature notches steadily upward, reaching above 110 degrees that day. The men are waiting for the agents to begin their processing and load them onto buses heading to a nearby Border Patrol station.

Word has begun circulating among those seeking asylum in the Yuma area: Border Patrol is forcing everyone to throw away all personal belongings, except for cellphones, wallets, and travel documents. Agents are demanding Sikh men remove their turbans and are dumping the sacred religious garb in the trash.

Bhupinder, an 18-year-old Sikh man wearing a purple turban, said, simply, “I can’t take it off.” An important expression of Sikh men’s faith is not cutting their hair, and covering their head with a turban.

The forced removal and confiscation of turbans violates Border Patrol policies that are meant to respect religious freedom. It also violates policies that require agents to track and return personal belongings.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona sent a letter to Border Patrol documenting dozens of cases of agents confiscating and discarding turbans, explaining the significance of the item, and how the actions “blatantly violate federal law,” Border Patrol policy, and protections of religious freedom.

A month earlier, a third Sikh man seeking asylum said Border Patrol ordered him to turn over his belongings — including two sacred symbols of his faith.

“They told me to take off my turban. I know a little English, and I said, ‘It’s my religion.’ But they insisted,” the man said, speaking through an interpreter in a July phone interview.

The man pleaded with the officers, who forced him to remove his turban and tossed it in a trash pile. He asked if he could at least keep his turban for when he was released from custody. They told him no. “I felt so bad,” he said.

The Border Patrol’s Yuma sector did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In addition to keeping uncut hair, maintained in a head covering, Sikhs, according to their faith, carry a comb; wear a bracelet; wear custom cotton underwear; and carry a small, curved sword or knife.

Border Patrol agents also cut a ribbon that was holding up the third asylum-seeker’s traditional Sikh underwear. Since there is no elastic on them, he was unable to continue wearing them.

..........

 

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/22125092-aclu-of-arizona-letter-on-border-patrol-confiscating-sikhs-turbans

 

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https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2022/08/04/us/border-patrol-sikh-turbans-confiscated-cec/index.html

The ACLU says Border Patrol agents are confiscating Sikh men's turbans 

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN 
Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Thu August 04, 2022
A US Border Patrol agent checks the passports of immigrants after they crossed the border with Mexico on May 18, 2022, in Yuma, Arizona. The ACLU alleges that agents in the Border Patrol's Yuma sector have been taking turbans from Sikh asylum-seekers.
 

(CNN)Border Patrol agents in Arizona have confiscated the turbans of dozens of Sikh men seeking asylum in the United States, violating their civil rights and government policies, the ACLU says in a letter calling for an end to the practice.

Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union decried what they said were unlawful and "serious religious-freedom violations" and asked US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus to investigate.

The letter, sent August 1 and first reported by The Intercept and nonprofit newsroom Arizona Luminaria, alleges that 64 such instances have been reported in the Border Patrol's Yuma sector so far this year -- mostly in the past two months -- by Sikh asylum seekers who were released from custody and sought help at a welcome center in Phoenix.

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On 8/3/2022 at 2:37 PM, Premi5 said:

“The turban is sacred.” At least 64 Sikh men have had their headwear confiscated and discarded by Yuma’s Border Patrol.

On the one hand, I don't know if their asylum claims are valid. (Though 99.99% of everybody else, including Hispanics coming through probably don't have valid claims either. Since it's a free-for-all, why shouldn't Sikhs participate?.)

On the other hand, if the Korans of Muslims were being confiscated, they'd be raising hell.

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16 hours ago, BhForce said:

On the one hand, I don't know if their asylum claims are valid. (Though 99.99% of everybody else, including Hispanics coming through probably don't have valid claims either. Since it's a free-for-all, why shouldn't Sikhs participate?.)

On the other hand, if the Korans of Muslims were being confiscated, they'd be raising hell.

They're economic migrants, apne sadly do play the asylum card. What kind of life is an illegal going to have abroad? 

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11 hours ago, MisterrSingh said:

God-damn Trump.

At first I was going to correct you to say that he hasn't been President since January 2021 ... but then I realize that this is another @MisterrSingh head-fake. Nice.

But it just goes to show, it doesn't matter how much these politicians pay lip service to diversity and minorities, and such. Sikhs always seem to get the short end of the stick.

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9 hours ago, ChardikalaUK said:

What kind of life is an illegal going to have abroad? 

Well, pretty good. I mean, the government is handing out work permits.

Because technically, they are not "illegal". That is, the vast majority of people crossing without a visa aren't just jumping the border.

Rather, they are going to a border guard and requesting asylum. Once they do that, a whole host of procedures kick in.

The work permit, but also, you can travel by air on the docs they give you at the border.

What else do you need? 

Once you're in, just marry someone else who came the same way. Your court date is years away, so have a baby, who will be a US Citizen by birth, then it's highly unlikely they would deport you.

As long as you keep your head down and don't commit a felony, they probably will not deport.

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2 hours ago, BhForce said:

Well, pretty good. I mean, the government is handing out work permits.

Because technically, they are not "illegal". That is, the vast majority of people crossing without a visa aren't just jumping the border.

Rather, they are going to a border guard and requesting asylum. Once they do that, a whole host of procedures kick in.

The work permit, but also, you can travel by air on the docs they give you at the border.

What else do you need? 

Once you're in, just marry someone else who came the same way. Your court date is years away, so have a baby, who will be a US Citizen by birth, then it's highly unlikely they would deport you.

As long as you keep your head down and don't commit a felony, they probably will not deport.

It all seems so desperate and a bit pathetic to me. Are we beggers? 

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