Legal and civil rights advocates are sounding an alarm about a federal ICE detention center in Florida that is allegedly regularly feeding Muslim detainees pork products, which many Muslims believe Islam prohibits.
Muslim detainees at the Krome detention facility in Miami have been forced to eat pork because the meals on hand that comply with Islamic rules are consistently rotten, according to advocates.
The issue is not a new one—according to advocacy groups Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigration Justice, detention centers have had a problem with halal meals rotting for more two years, but the situation has worsened since the pandemic began.
Speaking to CNN, Nimra Amzi, a staff attorney for Muslim Advocates, said that Krome's chaplain has repeatedly ignored detainees requests for help, telling them simply:
"It is what it is."
In a letter to ICE leadership and federal entities that oversea the organization, the advocacy groups claim that there are several dozens of detainees at Krome for whom pork is religious prohibited.
Prior to the pandemic, detainees were choosing their own meals in a cafeteria setting, thus enabling them to avoid pork-containing foods even if halal meals were spoiled. But since the pandemic began, the facility has been serving meals that are pre-plated and pre-portioned, leaving many Muslims to choose between rotten halal meals or ones containing pork at least two to three times a week, according to the advocates.
Azmi described the feelings of the detainees to CNN:
"The detainees are frustrated, rightfully so, that something as simple as being able to get meals that are edible for them and religiously compliant for them are not being attended to. I think that they particularly feel that they're just being ignored, that ICE is being dismissive, that nobody cares."
On Twitter, many were outraged by the allegations.
An ICE spokesperson told CNN that the allegations were false, and that the organization makes all reasonable attempts to accommodate the religious practices of detainees.
However, the Krome situation is not the first incident of this nature—ICE was sued by Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigration Justice last year for interfering with prayer, serving improper meals and denying religious articles to Muslims. Doing so is illegal under federal law.