Detained migrants say they were given meals that violate their religious beliefs
Asylum seekers detained at a federal prison in Oregon say they have been given meals that violate their religious beliefs and have endured poor conditions, according to a court filing on Friday.
William Teesdale, the chief investigator for the federal public defender’s office in Oregon, wrote in a court filing that more than 100 detainees at a federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., are subject to strip searches in front of other inmates, overcrowded cells and poor heating with little clothing to wear, The Associated Press reports.
Some of the detainees are from India, Nepal, Guatemala, Mexico and China, according to the court documents, which allege that Hindu asylum seekers were offered only beef and pork meals and were forced to attempt to subsist off scant vegetable portions.
“We are dying day by day inside here,” one detainee said, according to Teesdale.
“In the night, it gets so cold in the cell and when l was in boxers and T-shirt, I was terribly cold,” another said in a habeas corpus filing.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told the AP that the agency has no comment on the conditions in the Sheridan facility due to pending litigation.
An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement describing the conditions as “chaos, confusion and massive human suffering.”
One detainee has already attempted suicide at the facility, according to officials, and a court filing reveals that at least one other migrant at the prison is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
“I have to cry in my pillow,” one immigrant wrote in his habeas corpus brief. “I have suicidal thoughts but then I remember my family. My family is all that keeps me going.”
Federal Public Defender Lisa Hay warned the prison’s warden and local ICE officials that the facility continues “to fall below the minimum standards set by our government for immigration detention and, in my view, violate the Constitution by imposing punitive detention on civil detainees,” according to the AP.
The Trump administration has faced criticism for the mass detention of migrants suspected of illegal entry as asylum claims and other determinations of legal status are made. The policy is part of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry, enacted earlier this year.
Last month, President Trump signed an executive order ending the separate detention of children and parents after facing widespread outrage over the forced separation of families.
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