Asylum-seekers in Oregon prison suing for religious accommodations

Asylum-seekers in Oregon prison suing for religious accommodations
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New lawsuits filed on behalf of dozens of asylum-seekers being held in a federal prison in Oregon allege that authorities are denying detainees religious accommodations.

BuzzFeed News reported Thursday that public defender Lisa Hay filed the lawsuits on behalf of the detainees, many of whom are Sikh and Hindu.

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The lawsuit claims that Sikh detainees are not being allowed to wear turbans and are instead being forced to use “inadequate coverings.” Hay's lawsuit also says that Hindu detainees have not been able to access copies of their sacred texts in Hindi.

The complaint alleges that the Bureau of Prisons, which oversees the federal prison, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are violating the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Bureau of Prisons' guidelines on religious freedom, according to BuzzFeed.

An ICE spokesperson told the publication that the agency does not comment on pending litigation. The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately return BuzzFeed News's request for comment.

The detainees, who are from countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Honduras and Mexico, among others, were initially held in ICE custody, the outlet reported.

The group was moved to federal prison after immigration officials said detention centers had reached capacity, according to BuzzFeed. The detainees are among 1,600 asylum-seekers who were transferred to federal facilities at the end of May.

The Oregon public defender's office alleged in a filing last week that the asylum-seekers were given meals that violate their religious beliefs and have endured poor conditions, including overcrowded cells and high temperatures with little clothing to wear.