El Paso ICE

Sikhs Seeking Political Asylum Still Detained by Immigration in El Paso

El Paso ICE

In El Paso, Texas, 2 Sikh men are being held indefinitely as their trial to determine their claim to political asylum is delayed again.

The immigration processing centers in Texas have recently been the subject of scrutiny at a state and federal level. With an ever-increasing amount of immigrants who are coming into the country as juveniles or without documentation, the strain on the system is incredible.  However, the story that many people have not heard is in regards to two Sikhs who have fled from political retribution in India. They have been held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) dorms for over a year without being offered parole or a way into the country.

Seeking The Land of The Free

The two Sikh men, Garbinder Singh and Harshdeep Grewal, are members of a minority political party in India that has faced brutal physical attacks for openly expressing their beliefs. They’re part of a larger group of more than 40 people who fled India. Braving a dangerous journey though Central America, they turned up at the United States border seeking political asylum, and were promptly escorted to a holding facility where they remain today.

While it is not unusual for asylum seekers to be held, many of them are paroled out of the facility long before their court appearance. The typical stay for individuals who have sought asylum in the United States is about six months, enough time for the courts to establish reasonable fear for the individuals’ lives. Although the courts have established this fear in the case of these two men, they continue to be held over a year after their initial introduction date.

Why Immigration is Still Holding the Sikhs Indefinitely

The state government has said that this case offers several unique difficulties that have held up the process. First, the two men are from the Punjab region of India, a place known for having a very unique dialect. In fact, the language is so scarcely spoken in the region that the courts are having difficulty providing a translator for the two men.

Another one of the supposed reasons for the delay is that the asylum court hearing date is being pushed back so that they have translators available for the representatives of the State of Texas as well as each man.

The Latest from El Paso

With questions mounting regarding the legality of this excessive detainment, the latest asylum hearing was held on August 1, 2014. However, the courts were unable to solve the case, as the judge requested a change of venue in order to better serve the needs of the two men. While this now opens up the court to appeals, Singh and Grewal now settle in for an even longer detainment.


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