Fresno group wants to bring attention to 'El Paso 37'

A group of young Sikh-Americans from Fresno want to bring attention to an issue many may not know about: 'the El Paso 37.' (KFSN)
April 25, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local group of Sikh-Americans are calling for immigration reform. They say 37 Indian immigrants have been held by federal immigration officers for far too long.

These young Sikh-Americans from Fresno want to bring attention to an issue many may not know about: the "El Paso 37."

"Personally I believe there is an injustice going on, and these people should not be detained for as long as they have been," said Iqbal Singh.

According to online reports and the detainees' lawyer, 37 Punjabi migrants seeking political asylum have been held in an El Paso Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center since the summer. The men were on a hunger strike for days while they waited. Because of this, local residents started the Jakara Movement and now they're heading out on the road.

"We want ICE to follow its own policies in terms of detainment. There's a purpose that many of us feel is unjust for individuals that are seeking political asylum that come to this country that they are being held indefinitely," said Deep Singh.

John Lawit, a lawyer representing some of the detainees, says the men came to the country, legally surrendered themselves and have followed the proper process.

"Every single parole application was denied. There's no reason to make these guys gather more original documents from India and give it to ICE, said Lawit.

The Department of Homeland Security would not comment directly about this case but did issue this statement to Action News:

"ICE remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses on its priorities, including convicted criminals and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States."

As for these local residents, they're hitting the road and plan to protest in El Paso right in front of the ICE Processing Center.

"We are a group of activists, and we just feel that it's time to actually start walking the walk, and this is the only way we're going to get something done is by actually going out there," said Iqbal Singh.

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