Report claims Sikh migrants’ turbans taken away at US-Mexico border; ‘probe underway,’ say US authorities

US Mexico border

File: In this Thursday, June 10, 2021, file photo, a pair of migrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to reach the United States after crossing from Mexico to Yuma, Arizone, to seek asylum

Photo : AP


  • In recent months, a record number of migrants from India have been detained at the US-Mexico border
  • Most of them hail from Punjab, where Sikhs are in majority
  • Sikhism requires men to wear turbans and not cut their hair
Washington: United States authorities are investigating reports that turbans of Sikh asylum seekers were seized after they were detained near the Mexican border, according to a report on Wednesday.

BBC mentioned American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as saying that nearly 50 Sikh migrants have had their turbans removed.

According to the report, the turban confiscations “blatantly violate federal law” and are in conflict with US Customs and Border Protection’s own non-discrimination policies.

On August 1, the ACLU wrote to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus describing the seizures as “ongoing, serious religious freedom violations”.

An ACLU of Arizona lawyer, Vanessa Pineda, told BBC there has been no adequate explanation of what kind of security concerns a turban might raise.

“It’s just not acceptable. They need to find another alternative and stop this. It’s dehumanising,” she added.

In response, Magnus said the border agency expects its employees to “treat all migrants we encounter with respect”, BBC reported mentioning a report by The Washington Post.

“An internal investigation has been opened to address this matter,” the CBP Commissioner was cited as saying.

CBP statistics show that during the fiscal year that began in October 2021, Border Patrol officers detained nearly 13,000 Indian citizens, including many residents of Punjab, at the US-Mexico border.

Around three-quarters, or almost 10,000, of them, were detained in the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, a 202 km area of desert and rocky mountains that spans from California’s Imperial Sand Dunes to the border between Arizona’s Yuma and Pima counties.