If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that the elements of our government tasked with protecting our borders has been getting some bad press of late. There was that woman from Lovington who was forced to endure an invasive search conducted at the University Medical Center. There was that fifteen year old boy who was shot on the Mexican side of the border, and another kid that was shot in Nogales under controversial circumstances. Another man died after being tased multiple times at the San Diego border crossing.
And now there’s this story from the Daily Beast:
This April, more than 40 detainees at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement processing center in El Paso went on a hunger strike. The men, all of them Sikhs from India, had been held captive for close to a year after they had crossed into the U.S. from Mexico, walked up to a Border Patrol agent, and asked for political asylum.
Within 48 hours of being detained, each of them passed their “credible fear” interviews, establishing that they had a reasonable fear of persecution if they returned home. This made them eligible to be released to a relative while awaiting an immigration hearing. Yet every one of their parole requests was denied. Some of the men were deported, while the rest remained in detention.
By April, the jailed men had grown hopeless, desperate, and convinced that their parole requests were not getting legitimate consideration. So, in protest, they stopped eating. During the first few days of the hunger strike, according to a lawyer representing some of the men, ICE agents threatened to force-feed the detainees. When that tactic failed to break the strike, the Sikhs received a visitor: a representative from the Indian consulate in Houston. According to statements from the detainees and an attorney representing some of them, N.P.S. Saini was called to convince the men to end their hunger strike, give up their asylum claims, and go home. If true, this would be a violation of American laws on amnesty, which explicitly prohibit the disclosure of any information that links an asylum seeker’s identity to the fact that they’ve applied for asylum.
Their lawyer is understandably agitated about it.
Beyond securing release and, eventually, asylum for all of his clients, [Dallas-based immigration attorney] John Lawit also wants repercussions for the ICE against who, he says, violated U.S. law and United Nations protocol by outing his clients and the other asylum seekers to a representative of the government they’re attempting to flee. At the very least, he wants the ICE agents who arranged the Indian consul’s visit to be fired, and he wants all of the Sikh men—including those who’ve already been deported—to be allowed to submit new asylum applications. At best, he’d like to see the agents indicted on obstruction of justice charges for attempting to interfere with the detainees pending immigration proceedings.
Wouldn’t you think that a federal agency which is, in the best light, jingoistic, and at worst, racist, might be a little more circumspect? Or maybe they don’t give a damn what anybody thinks.