Dozens of Indian nationals are among the 123 immigrants who have been detained at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oregon for a month now.
According to The Oregonian, four members of the state’s Democratic Congressional delegation were extremely upset after touring the center and talking to its detainees.
The detainees are locked up for 22 to 23 hours a day with three to a cell and are facing brutal conditions.
“It’s been difficult to impossible to talk to a lawyer,” they told the politicians, the report said.
Some don’t even know where their wives or children are and are afraid they will soon face deportation.
“This is a shameful hour in U.S. history. I don’t care what your stance on immigration is; no one should favor ripping children out of their parents’ arms,” U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer told The Oregonian.
According to The Oregonian, some of the detainees were told to use payphones to call a lawyer while others were given the information. However, the paperwork was left in their pockets and their clothes were then confiscated.
The lawyers from the office of the Federal Public Defender in Portland have managed to get inside the center and have met about half of the detainees.
The American Civil Liberties Union pleaded with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday, aiming to make such situations better.
Most of the detainees are South Asian and speak mainly Hindi or Punjabi, but have not yet received any help from the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), a social justice organization.
“These detainees are isolated, have limited access to interpretation, and are at-risk of abuse in their current prison housing arrangement,” the APANO said in a post on its website.
The organization has been trying to get help and raise funds for support while many local residents reportedly gathered near the prison to protest the detention on June 18 as they held signs saying “Make America Compassionate Again” and “Keep Families Together.”
The detention is part of President Donald Trump’s new “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which was introduced in May and allows all immigrants who have illegally crossed the border into the U.S., to be criminally prosecuted in federal court while minors are taken into government custody, separating many children from their parents.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, Indians were the fastest-growing illegal immigrant population in the country, with their number hitting half a million as some overstay their student or business visas.
Last year, the Trump administration deported 460 Indian illegal immigrants while 33 were sent home earlier this year, according to Quartz India.