Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powel demands investigation into disturbing ICE religious discrimination allegations
Advocate groups say Muslim ICE detainees have been forced to eat pork, which goes against their religion and beliefs.
Muslim detainees at a federal immigration facility (ICE) in Florida say they have been repeatedly served pork, in a gross disregard for the religion’s practices and beliefs.
Immigrant advocate groups, Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigrant Justice released a letter on Aug. 19, reporting they had received alarming reports that ICE and its officers have been serving “pork or pork-based products to Muslim detainees.”
The facility in question is Krome detention facility in Miami. The letter states “Muslim detainees have been forced to accept these meals because the religiously compliant or halal meals that ICE has served have been persistently rotten and expired.”
According to the seven-page document, this has been ongoing since 2017.
There are dozens of Muslim detainees at the Krome ICE facility, and according to their beliefs, it is “religiously impermissible to consume pork,” the letter continues.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Muslim detainees were able to select their own meals from the cafeteria, the advocacy groups say, so they were able to avoid the pork-based food and expired halal meals they were offered.
But since the pandemic began, the facility shifted to distributing pre-portioned and pre-plated meals, often times including pork, even though employees are aware of their Muslim detainees.
Not only did the facility disregard the religious beliefs of its detainees, ICE officers at Krome have violated federal law, the document suggests.
“ICE officers at Krome have violated Muslim detainees’ rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” it reads, also stating that “the Supreme Court has long held that ‘prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the Constitution.’”
This blatant violation of the detainees rights has seen widespread reporting, but so far nothing concrete has been done to address the issue.
That’s why Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, along with Rep. Donna Shalala, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, are demanding an investigation into the disturbing news surrounding the facility.
In a joint letter, the trio addresses Joseph Cufari, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Patricia Nation, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the DHS.
“We urge you to open an investigation into these allegations of egregious violations of Muslim detainees’ civil and religious liberites, the letter reads.
There were troubling reports of civil and religious liberty violations at @ICEgov’s Krome facility.
That’s why @RepDWStweets, @RepShalala, and I are demanding an investigation about these disturbing allegations. pic.twitter.com/Ikr8bwof6S
— Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (@RepDMP) August 28, 2020
So far, ICE hasn’t been compliant in responding to the allegations.
“Any claim that ICE denies reasonable and equitable opportunity for persons to observe their religious dietary practices is false,” an ICE spokesperson told Business Insider.
Advocacy groups and lawyers are giving ICE and DHS 14 days to respond to the disturbing issues raised. Now urged by the three representatives, ICE.