Congresswoman Grace Meng, D-NY, of Queens, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security announced Aug. 19, 2020, that she sent a letter to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf demanding an explanation and investigation of reports that detainees were not being served pork instead of religiously appropriate food. Meng’s Subcommittee has oversight over the ’s (DHS) budget and policies.
Meng said she felt “shock and outrage” after news emerged that Muslim detainees in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Miami, Florida, were forced to choose between pork or pork-based products and rotten or expired halal meals.
Meng called for a halt to the practices and an investigation into the matter, a press release from her office said.
“I’m appalled by the news that Muslim detainees are forced to choose between their faith and food,” Rep Meng said, calling it “abhorrent” and demanding the detainees’ religious and dietary requirements be met.
“While our nation has struggled to contain COVID-19, this is no excuse to treat people with less dignity and respect, including those in U.S. detention facilities. I urge the secretary to personally resolve this issue and look forward to his response,” said Meng.
In her letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, Meng said Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights and legal advocacy organization, and Americans for Immigrant Justice, alleged ICE officers at Krome Service Processing Center, in Miami, Florida, repeatedly served pork or pork-based products to Muslim detainees during this COVID-19 pandemic as the religiously compliant or halal meals served were rotten and expired.
“I am calling for an investigation into this matter, and an immediate halt to feeding detainees foods that violate their religious beliefs,” said Meng in the letter to Wolf.
According to national regulations, ICE detention facilities are required to provide detainees requesting a religious diet reasonable and equitable opportunity to observe their religious dietary practice within the constraints of security, the press release noted.
Krome is regularly serving Muslim detainees pre-plated pork sausage, pork ribs, and other pork-based ingredients at least two to three times a week, Meng said. “There is no reason that Muslim detainees cannot receive unexpired, unspoiled halal meals, or, at the very least, pre-plated meals that do not require them to consume pork,” Meng said in her letter, demanding answers to a slew of questions regarding protocols followed at Krome.