Home > Press Releases > Gay Indian Couple Jailed . . . in America

For Immediate Release

December 13, 2013

Contact: Ameesha Sampat
(202) 347-7007 / asampat@immigrationequality.org

Gay asylum-seekers will spend another weekend in jail – the fate they fled India to avoid

New York City, NY – Immigration Equality is representing two gay men from India who have been detained in immigration jail in El Paso, Texas for six months. This week India’s high court reinstated criminal penalties for being gay, making it even more dangerous for the couple to return.

The couple, Jagdish Kumar and Sukhwinder Sukhwinder, arrived in America in June and immediately asked for asylum based on their sexual orientation. They demonstrated a “credible fear” of persecution, the first step in seeking asylum. Under the law they should be released while their case is pending. Despite relatives who have volunteered to take them in, the government has denied their request for parole three times.

Immigration Equality staff attorney Clement Lee shared, “This couple just wants to be together and be safe. There is no legal reason they should be denied release while they wait for their asylum hearing.”

As Kumar said movingly in his credible fear interview: “Before I came here, I didn’t know the policy for the U.S.—that they are going to put us in a camp and make us separate and we will be detained here for months. How long are we going to be detained? . . . [T]he first thing that happened is that we were separate[d] and I cannot live without him. We came here to be together. I have taken these requests to the supervisor and asked to live together and that is the reason we left our country. We want to live here together. We have no problem; all we want is to be together. I requested that we should be living in one room and when the interview comes we can give our interview together, but I have not received any response for those requests. Because we are a couple and we are connected with each other, and even our cases are connected.”

Immigration Equality’s legal team is pushing Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release Kumar and Sukhwinder. They are two of many people detained at the El Paso Processing Center.

Immigration Equality represents people from around the world fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status. Immigration Equality has won asylum for more than 500 LGBT and HIV-positive individuals, and answers thousands of legal inquiries each year.

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Immigration Equality is a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals.

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