Two Sikh asylum seekers in Oregon file lawsuit for Religious Protection Violation

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A Twitter post of June 18, 2018, by Valarie Kaur, a human rights activist of the Sikh faith. (Photo: Valarie Kaur Twitter)

Two Indian asylum seekers of Sikh origin, who were previously detained at a federal prison in western Oregon, have filed a lawsuit claiming that the Trump administration has violated their religious protections.

According to an Oregon Public Broadcasting report, Pachattar Singh and Gurpreet Singh filed the federal lawsuit on November 1 saying that they were not allowed to follow the customs of their Sikh religion at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan.

“While detained at Sheridan, asylum-seeking detainees of the Sikh faith were denied a vegetarian diet, and many were forced to eat meat to avoid malnutrition and starvation,” the lawsuit said.

Both of the asylum seekers were also told to pray in their cells, however, their religious beliefs do not allow them to pray in a room with a toilet, the lawsuit added, stating that these are violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Nobody knows where the plaintiffs are currently and the federal government has not responded to the lawsuit yet, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent more than 120 detainees from the U.S. southern border to Sheridan in late May and thus the agency said that it would needed space for up to 1,600 detainees after the Trump administration announced a zero-tolerance immigration policy.

Though the Federal Bureau of Prisons made some improvements in housing and food for detainees at Sheridan, the lawsuit said that restrictions still remained.

“Plaintiffs’ inability to freely exercise these religious beliefs was a cause of immeasurable distress for them,” the lawsuit added.

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