It’s imperative that the United States of America return to its previous role as a beacon of hope for immigrants, believe Democratic lawmakers who recently visited a detention centre in Oregon where a group of 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, has been detained.

According to reports, Indians form the largest group of detainees in the total 123 illegal immigrants being held at a facility in Sheridan.

Democratic lawmakers recently visited the detention centre and revealed to the media the alleged inhuman condition of illegal immigrants being kept there.

In a blog post, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said the Indian detainees were planning to request for asylum, instead they have been incarcerated in a federal prison.

“Through our Punjabi translator, we learned that these men were planning to request asylum because they faced severe religious persecution in India. Most are Sikh or Christian. Instead they were incarcerated in a federal prison,” she said.

“They said they came to the United States for religious freedom, but they felt as if they were ‘going crazy’ because they are being confined in small cells for up to 22 hours a day,” the Congresswoman said.

Although several of the detainees travelled to the border with their family members, none knew where their family members are.

“This is a shameful hour in US history. I don’t care what your stance on immigration is, no one should favour ripping children out of their parents’ arms ….” Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer told reporters after visiting the detention center.

Senator Ron Wyden said US president Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy showed “zero understanding of American values.”

“What I saw and heard today highlights the urgency of reversing Trump’s mean, dangerous and damaging actions – returning America to our unique role as a beacon of hope that welcomed our immigrant ancestors and creating the future we want for our children,” he said.

First Ladies React

Rosalyn Carter, the wife of former Democratic president Jimmy Carter, on Monday became the latest former first lady to oppose Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

As outrage grows over the forceful separation of children and parents, a practice that has been termed barbaric by Democrats, Carter released a statement saying she has witnessed firsthand the trauma experiences by children who have had to stay separated due to circumstances beyond their control.

“When I was the first lady, I worked to call attention to the plight of refugees fleeing Cambodia for Thailand. I visited Thailand and witnessed firsthand the trauma of parents and children separated by circumstance beyond their control,” Carter said in the statement cited by the US media.

Weighing in on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, former first lady Laura Bush on Monday penned an op-ed in The Washington Post saying “Separating children from their parents at the border ‘breaks my heart.’”

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” Bush tweeted alongside her op-ed.

Former first lady Michelle Obama retweeted the article and added, “Sometimes truth transcends party.”