'An ERO SRT team walks through a detention facility in riot gear.' US Immigration and Customs Enforcement photo.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Florida has been giving Muslim immigration detainees a choice for their meals: They can either "choose" standard pre-packed meals that contain pork, or they can opt for pre-packaged halal meals that are years past their expiration dates and rotting. That's according to a letter sent to officials at ICE and the Department of Homeland Security by attorneys working with two civil rights groups, Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigrant Justice.

The whole thing is disgusting, just one more reminder that in Trump's America, the cruelty is the point.


According to the letter from the two groups and law firm King and Spalding, ICE's Krome Service Processing Center in Miami has only offered expired, rotting halal meals to Muslim detainees for more than two years, even though the detainees had pointed out the meals had expired in 2017 and that those who ate them had become ill. If detainees declined the halal option, they'd get fresh, pre-plated meals, but at least two to three times a week, those meals contained pork.

Say, would this be a goof place to mention that people in ICE detention are mostly awaiting action in immigration court, and possible deportation, and those are civil matters — these are not convicts, or they'd be in the prison system. Hell, if they were imprisoned, there might be more concern for their rights. Well, okay, probably not.

Before the pandemic, the letter says, Muslim detainees at least had an option: They could select their own meals from the cafeteria. But when the cafeteria was closed due to the pandemic, Krome switched to a

satellite-feeding program. Under satellite feeding, all meals are served pre-portioned and pre-plated in the pod or housing units. Although ICE officers at Krome have long been aware of the Muslim detainees' faith-based dietary restrictions, they are nonetheless regularly serving Muslim detainees pre-plated pork sausage, pork ribs, and other pork-based ingredients during the pandemic. [...] There is no reason, even in a pandemic, that Muslim detainees cannot receive unexpired, unspoiled halal meals, or, at the very least, pre-plated meals that do not require them to consume pork.

But maybe there's a very good reason, which boils down to "because we don't wanna." And also maybe it's really a funny thing to do to teach them Muslims a lesson, like when Donald Trump endlessly repeated that thoroughly debunked story about General Pershing committing fun war crimes by executing Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pigs' blood. We don't know the origins of this fun meal abuse, but we bet the ICE guards had a lot of yucks about what a hilarious thing it was.

Oh, and here's the very best part: The detainees tried to submit formal grievances to ICE staff, and to the chaplain at Krome, but the complaints on paper were never picked up, and those submitted "through the tablet system" — we'll assume electronically, not like on slabs of slate, but it IS DHS in the Trump era — went ignored for months. And when the detainees went to the chaplain, that doughty Man (we assume) of God had an answer for them:

Krome's illegal pattern of callousness to the health and free exercise of its Muslim detainees is encapsulated by the chaplain's response to the Muslim detainees' requests for assistance, who dismissed their requests by saying, "It is what it is."

He seems nice!

The letter goes on to lay out exactly how this violates all sorts of court findings on First Amendment, Freedom of Even Weird not-Jesus Religions grounds, as well as the basic principle that detainees have to be given edible food and not have their rights violated, yes even if they're Muslims. All that is prefatory to possible further legal action; the letter closes with a note that if the detainees don't get the option of edible halal meals within 14 days,"the undersigned will be required to seek additional recourse."

That's really a smart thing for ICE to be doing, really, since there couldn't possibly be any blowback for Americans imprisoned in other countries. Or as Daily Beast reporter Spencer Ackerman notes on the Twitter, "Every Jew familiar with our history knows exactly what this is. We'll see who stands up for our Muslim cousins and who doesn't."

We'll keep an eye out for developments on this; since so far it only seems to be happening at this one detention center (as far as we know), this might be limited to some assholes who see their duty as keeping up a grand tradition of systemic racism. But we also wouldn't be the least surprised to find out it's happening elsewhere, either. It's not like the Great Man hasn't already sent very clear messages about who has rights in this country and who doesn't. The guy who encouraged cops to bang arrestees' heads on patrol car doors — as a funny joke! — and who promised he'd pardon border officers who acted illegally probably won't look at this and ask, My God, what have I done?

Or maybe Mike Pence, that avatar of rectitude and concern for freedom of religion, will come to the detainees' aid.

Oh don't we have fun.

[Muslim Advocates via Spencer Ackerman on Twitter / Letter to ICE Miami Field Office et al]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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