ACLU Calls for Investigation Into Religious Freedom Violations by ICE and CBP

March 20, 2019 11:15 am

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WASHINGTON — The ACLU has called on the Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation into its sub-agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, after numerous reports have surfaced revealing violations of detained immigrants’ religious freedom rights.

In a letter addressed to DHS’ Office of Inspector General and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the ACLU has detailed a widespread pattern of misconduct by CBP and ICE, which have denied detained immigrants the ability to observe and practice their faith and engage in even basic religious practices: forcing immigrants to eat food that violates their religious beliefs, prohibiting them from attending worship services, wearing religious head coverings, and accessing holy texts. CBP officers have even seized religious effects from immigrants at the border, only for those items to end up in the trash.

Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Project on Freedom of Religion and Belief, issued the following statement:

“This administration purports to champion religious liberty, but its treatment of detained immigrants tells another story. Forcing Muslims to eat pork, confiscating rosaries from Catholics, ripping makeshift turbans off the heads of Sikhs, and generally denying detained immigrants basic religious freedom rights is illegal. The violations suffered by detained immigrants are piling up every day, and the administration has done nothing to stop it or hold CBP and ICE accountable. We call on DHS to immediately investigate, and put an end to, this abhorrent pattern of abuses.”

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