An Indian man who fled persecution in the home country and has been in the United States for almost 2 decades was detained in California after losing his latest appeal over a deportation order.
Gurmukh Singh, who is married to an American citizen and has 2 daughters, was taken into custody on Monday by federal agents following failing to get a stay in his case, his attorney & family told.
The 46-year-old Sikh taxi driver from Punjab state sneaked into the U.S. without a visa through the border with Mexico in 1998.
He next applied for asylum, citing religious persecution. But his family and lawyer state he failed to properly attempt the case and was ordered deported.
Singh married a United States citizen in 2010 but his deportation case resurfaced when he applied for a residency visa in 2012 allowed his new status.
He was consequently jailed for about 5 months but later rights activists posted his bail, he was released and his case has since been going through the appeals process.
His family told in the past many years, he had been checking in with the office of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a consistent basis pending the outcome of his appeals upon the deportation order.
Alexis Perez Nava, with Resilience Orange County, a group supporting his case, stated Singh was detained on Monday after the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request to quash the deportation order.
“We are completely devastated. This has completely broken us apart, emotionally and physically,” Singh’s 18-year-old daughter Manpreet told AFP.
She stated her father has no criminal record, had always paid his taxes and just sought to “live a normal life and feed his family.”
“Watching him emotionally break down is probably the last thing any daughter wants to see,” Manpreet said, her voice breaking.
“He just looked at us this morning and said ‘I don’t know what is going to happen to us any more. Please forgive me and take care,'” she continued.
Lori Haley, an ICE spokeswoman, told Singh was ordered detained after his case had “undergone exhaustive review at all levels of our nation’s legal system.”
She added that while the priority for federal authorities was to focus on criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety, those like Singh who violate immigration laws were not exempt from action.
“All those in violation of our nation’s immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removed from the United States,” she stated in an email.
Singh’s detention comes between a clampdown by the administration of President Trump upon undocumented immigrants.