Death of Indian girl shows U.S. broken immigration system: Sikh advocacy

indica News Bureau-


The death of seven-year-old Indian girl in the Arizona desert due to heat stroke is reflective of the tragic culmination of a broken immigration system of the United States, a Sikh advocacy group said Monday.

Gurupreet Kaur died of heat stroke in the Arizona desert where temperatures were 108 degrees Fahrenheit, according to US Border Patrol and the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME).

She and her mother were reportedly among a group of five Indian nationals who were dropped off by migrant traffickers in a remote area along the US-Mexico border.

Her mother and another woman went in search of water, leaving Gurupreet with two others from the group. Gurupreet’s mother was found by a US Border Patrol agent 22 hours later. Four hours after that, Border Patrol agents found Gurupreet’s body.

“This story reflects the tragic culmination of a broken immigration system, immigration policies that deny basic human dignity and human rights particularly for asylum seekers and the unfortunate practice of individuals moving those most vulnerable for profit,” said Kiran Kaur Gill, executive director of Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

SALDEF has seen ongoing issues in detention facilities including the use of solitary confinement, denial of appropriate religious accommodation, medical neglect and language access issues, she said.

“We stand firmly against the practice of detaining and/or turning away asylum seekers and treating those most vulnerable as threats,” Gill said.

SALDEF, she said, has been working to ensure Sikh asylum seekers receive fair and humane treatment in the asylum process and are ensured the appropriate religious accommodation afforded to all under our laws.

Death of Gurpreet is the second recorded fatality of a migrant child this year in Arizona’s southern deserts highlighting the central issue in immigration – it is complicated, arduous, expensive and scary forcing people to take extraordinary measures to come and make a life here in the US.

SALDEF said it will be investigating into the death of Gurupreet and information about her mother and the other migrants in their group.

“The humanitarian crisis at the border is increasing and the need to address the issue in a humane and timely fashion is more necessary now than ever. We will also be inquiring about this incident with Customs and Border Protection,” it said.

This is a heart-wrenching story of an innocent seven-year-old dying from heat stroke, said Indian American attorney Ravi Batra in a statement. “That her adult parent(s) made the conscious choice to enter the attractive not-so-porous Southern Border of the United States hiring human traffickers is criminally negligent,” he said.

“We need to put the traffickers out of business, and once the Indian Embassy has gained article 36 VCCR (Vienna Convention on Consular Relations) access, perhaps they can secure a discharge from custody and arrange a safe return to India. Anything else will continue the Hobson’s Choice for both these persons and the United States,” Batra said in response to a question.


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