At least 42 Indians have been detained at a facility in New Mexico for allegedly entering the United States illegally, The Hindu reported on Friday. As many as 52 Indians are also being held at a federal prison in Oregon.
Indian officials approached the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement after learning of the detentions from community leaders. The authorities confirmed that at least 42 of the detainees at the Otero County Detention Centre in New Mexico are Indians.
“We have established contacts with both the detention facilities,” the Indian embassy in the United States said in a statement. “A consular official has visited the detention facility in Oregon and another one is scheduled to visit the detention facility in New Mexico. We are monitoring the situation.”
It is unclear when these people were detained, or whether they want consular facilities, The Hindu reported. Contrary to reports of separation of families at the border, the detainees at the Oregon prison are all single men and have not been separated from their families, it added.
“From what we understand now, these are single men. And they seem to have paid large amounts of money to touts who helped them cross into the US,” The Hindu reported quoting an unidentified source. Most of the detainees are Sikhs from Punjab or Christians from Andhra Pradesh, the report said.
Trump’s immigration policy
In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy that allows authorities to file criminal charges against undocumented immigrants. This has led to nearly 2,000 children being separated from their parents in just six weeks.
On Thursday President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep families who illegally cross the US southern border together as they await immigration proceedings.
The executive order came in the wake of widespread criticism of the Trump administration for its defence of its immigration policy. Investigative news website ProPublica on Monday put out an audio recording of immigrant children from Central America crying inconsolably for their parents at a detention centre on the US-Mexico border.