US: Sikh turbans seized at Mexico border, authorities open investigation

According to human rights advocates, nearly 50 migrants have had religious headgear taken away

US-Mexico border at Yuma. Photo: AFP
US-Mexico border at Yuma. Photo: AFP

By Web Desk

Published: Thu 4 Aug 2022, 8:31 AM

Human rights advocates have said that nearly 50 Sikh migrants from India have had their turbans taken away as they tried to cross the border from Mexico to the US.

Record numbers of migrants from India have been detained at the border in recent months, according to the BBC.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has said that confiscating religious headgear "blatantly violates federal law" and the US Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) anti-discriminatory rules.

The ACLU sent a letter to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus on 1 August, in which it called the seizures "ongoing, serious religious-freedom violations".

No explanations have been given as to what security risks authorities are concerned about in relation to turbans, according to lawyer Vanessa Pineda, of the ACLU of Arizona.

She said it is part of a wider situation where the personal property of migrants is being confiscated and disposed of without explanation or replacement.

"It's just not acceptable," she added. "They need to find another alternative and to stop this. It's dehumanising."

Magnus said the border agency expects its staff to "treat all migrants we encounter with respect," according to the Washington Post.

"An internal investigation has been opened to address this matter," his statement said.

According to CBP statistics published online, nearly 13,000 Indian citizens have been detained by Border Patrol officers at the US-Mexico border in the fiscal year that began in October.


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