WASHINGTON—Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Andre Carson (D-IN) led a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling for a full investigation into allegations that ICE fed detainees pork, in violation of their religious tenets, Muslim ICE detainees at the Krome detention facility in Miami were reportedly forced to choose between eating pork, or eating rotten halal food. This follows a long line of allegations of ICE violations of their own protocols regarding religious accommodations for detainees, which has included denial of Kosher meals to Jewish detainees, and violations against Hindu and Catholic detainees.
The letter was also signed by Reps. Donald S. Beyer Jr., Judy Chu, Jim Cooper, Madeleine Dean, Ted Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Veronica Escobar, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jahana Hayes, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Rick Larsen, Barbara Lee, Jerrold Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Linda T. Sánchez, Jan Schakowsky, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Juan Vargas, Nydia M. Velázquez, and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
“This incident in Miami is just one more in a long line of acts of gross dehumanization of our immigrant neighbors by the Trump Administration,” said Rep. Tlaib. “Federal officials must not be allowed to carry out the hate agenda of this President with impunity. Those subjected to this abuse deserve justice and I am proud to join my colleagues in demanding it, as well as working to ensure no other is subjected to it again.”
“The United States was founded on principles of religious liberty and equality before the law,” said Rep. Omar. “This episode represents only the latest betrayal of those principles by the Trump Administration—a presidency built on xenophobia and anti-Muslim hate—and a brutal reminder of the inhumanity of ICE detention. This cruel system of abuse must end and its perpetrators must be held fully accountable.”
“These allegations of mistreatment are extremely troubling and demand immediate investigation,” said Rep. Carson. Forcing anyone to violate their religious principles undermines America’s protection and value of religious freedom. We should all be concerned by how ICE has continued to mistreat detainees and violate basic decency and human rights.”
The letter calls on the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to fully investigate the allegations – which ICE has now publicly denied – as well as preemptively investigate other facilities with significant numbers of detainees needing religious accommodations.
You can read the full letter here and below.
Dear Ms. Quinn,
We are writing to request that your office take up an investigation into allegations recently raised about the treatment of Muslim detainees at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility, Krome Service Processing Center, in Miami, Florida. The allegations that Muslim detainees were given a “choice” to violate their religious tenets by eating pork, or offered spoiled halal food as a substitute, are outlined in detail in a letter sent to your office by Muslim Advocates on August 18th, 2020. While ICE has publicly denied the allegations, every aspect of the allegations has documented precedent. Given the history of religious freedom violations across ICE detention facilities, including violations affecting Muslim, Catholic, and Hindu detainees, we find the allegations of targeted violations of Muslim civil rights to be credible.
Furthermore, given a history of dangerously poor food quality in ICE detention facilities, including those enumerated in a February, 2019 DHS Office of the Inspector General report regarding the detention facility in Essex, New Jersey, we find the allegation that the “reasonable accommodation” provided to detainees at Krome may have included spoiled religiously compliant food alternatives to be credible.
As you are no doubt aware, forcing Muslim detainees to choose between eating pork and eating spoiled halal food would be a clear violation of ICE’s 2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards. They would also be clear violations of the civil rights and civil liberties of Muslim detainees.
We further note that Krome is not likely to be the only facility where these alleged violations are occurring. For this reason, we ask that your investigation include the specific allegations raised in Muslim Advocates’ letter, be expanded to include investigations of other facilities with significant numbers of detainees requiring religious accommodations. We also request a list of those facilities, including the numbers of detainees requiring religious accommodations, disaggregated by religion, at each of them.
As part of this investigation, we ask that you specifically examine the grievance and complaint system at Krome and other facilities, given the allegation that detainees filed numerous grievances about the meal issue but never received a response. We ask that the results of this investigation be made public.
We also ask that you do everything in your office’s power to ensure that all Muslim detainees and other detainees requiring religious dietary accommodations are given immediate access to those accommodations, and that ICE officers and employees who have violated detainees’ rights are held accountable.
The fundamental values of religious freedom and equality before the law are essential to the fabric of our democracy. We demand accountability for this treatment, and we look forward to working with your office to achieve it.
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
cc: The Hon. Joseph V. Cuffari, Homeland Security Inspector General