US Sikh detained, faces deportation
A Sikh man, who had sought asylum in the US citing religious persecution in India about two decades ago, has been detained by the immigration authorities in California after losing his latest appeal over a deportation order.
Gurmukh Singh, a 46-year-old taxi driver from Punjab who sneaked into the US without a visa through the border with Mexico in 1998, was taken into custody yesterday after failing to get a stay in his deportation case, amid a clampdown by the Donald Trump administration against undocumented immigrants.
A father of two, Gurmukh is married to a US citizen. He had applied for asylum in the US in 1999, citing religious persecution.
A Garden Grove resident who has no criminal record, Gurmukh checked in with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Santa Ana yesterday, as required for individuals with final deportation orders who have been released under supervision.
But the ICE says courts at all levels have upheld his removal order, leading to him being detained.
Gurmukh told reporters he was “very nervous”, according to the Orange County Register.
After he had applied for asylum, his case was moved to an immigration court. But his previous counsel did not notify him in advance of his court date in 1999 and did not prepare him, so Gurmukh appeared at the hearing without supporting evidence or testimony. A judge had then ordered his deportation.
His wife, Balwinder Kaur, became a US citizen in 2010 and applied for him to become a legal permanent resident in 2012.
It was only then that he found out he had a deportation order on his record. The ICE had detained him in 2013 for five months, based on the prior deportation order.
The Orange County Register said immigrants rights groups and politicians had successfully advocated for his release, but two weeks ago a judge dismissed his appeal to reopen his asylum case.