MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Attorneys representing Muslim detainees at the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami-Dade County are asking federal authorities to stop forcing them to choose between eating pork sausage, pork ribs, and other pork-based ingredients or rotten halal meat.
King & Spalding LLP and legal advocates reported the pre-plated expired food has caused detainees to suffer stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has changed the way food is served during the coronavirus pandemic to prevent the spread of the disease at the detention center.
“While the detainees have notified ICE staff and Krome’s chaplain of these conditions, their complaints have been willfully ignored,” the attorneys wrote in a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, adding “The pandemic is no excuse to needlessly violate detainees’ religious rights.”
The letter was signed by three attorneys: Kathryn S. Lehman, a partner at King & Spalding; Nimra H. Azmi, of Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization; and Lisa Lehner, of the Americans for Immigrant Justice, a non-profit law firm.
ICE released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying that “any claim that ICE denies reasonable and equitable opportunity for persons to observe their religious dietary practices is false” and goes against the agency’s performance standards.
The statement also included that “while each request for religious diet accommodation is to be determined on a case-by-case basis, ICE anticipates that facilities will grant these requests unless an articulable reason exists to disqualify someone for religious accommodation or the detainee’s practice poses a significant threat to the secure and orderly operation of the facility.”