Immigration and prison officials have seized Bibles and other holy books from immigrants detained at a federal prison in California, where they are being subjected to dangerous and inhumane conditions with no freedom to practice their respective faiths, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a lawsuit.
The ACLU said, as part of a coalition of civil rights groups, it has filed a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Prisons for violating the constitutional rights of the roughly 1,000 immigrants detained at the federal prison located in a desert in Victorville.
Prison officials have denied the detained men “one of the few things that might bring them some comfort or peace of mind: the ability to practice their faith,” the group said in a Wednesday statement, explaining that they are not being provided religious services or any other means for them to worship and pray.
“By policy, the men are not allowed to worship outside of their cells. Prison officials also have not provided meals that fully comport with their religious beliefs, forcing them to eat food that violates their faith or go hungry,” ACLU says.
Their religious items were confiscated, it adds. Citing an example, the group says an immigrant “had his Bible seized and has likewise been unable to procure a replacement.”
“These violations of religious rights persist, even though the BOP’s and ICE’s own regulations recognize the right to engage in these religious practices,” the statement notes.
They are “confined indoors for most of the day with little opportunity for exercise or exposure to sunlight,” it continues. “Their ‘meals’ are often inedible: spoiled milk and meat that is infested with worms and maggots.”
Officials are also ignoring medical and mental health needs, “an especially dangerous situation for those who have fled persecution or torture in their home countries.”
As a result, ACLU says, there have been outbreaks of chickenpox and scabies. “When the men try to seek medical help, they are often dismissed, mocked, and verbally abused by staff who threaten them with isolation and other punishment.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar