Illegal Agents Using Asylum As Reason for Trafficking Indians, Says Indian Foreign Minister

Illegal agents have started trafficking Indians to other countries using the pretext of asylum seeking, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.


Illegal agents have started trafficking Indians to other countries using the pretext of asylum seeking, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said. Agents mostly traffick people from Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat to other countries, where they seek asylum on political grounds, she added, PTI reported.

“The illegal agents take Rs 20-25 lakh from these people and some of them have to cross five countries to reach Mexico and upon reaching the United States, they seek asylum,” Swaraj on July 27 while addressing a conference of state women commissions on the issues of NRI Marriages and Trafficking of Women and Children.

Most of these illegal immigrants are youngsters in the age group of 20-22 years who deny help from immigration officials when they visit them. They even refuse to meet them, since they are told by agents that their application seeking asylum would be rejected by the host country if they are seen taking help from Indian officials, Swaraj said, according to the report.

The number of such people seeking asylum has been increasing, she revealed, pointing out that that the circle of trafficking run by these agents needs to be broken.

“We have launched a campaign to spread awareness about such fraudulent agents, advising people to avail the services of only government-authorized agents,” she was quoted as saying by the news agency.

As many as 8,363 Indian nationals have sought asylum in foreign countries, according to data available until July 16 this year, according to the Indian government. About 8,000 persons are living illegally in Germany, but are not in jail, while 359 are in the United States and in detention, two in Denmark and in jail, two in Brazil and in jail, and one is in Finland, but not in jail, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told the Lok Sabha on July 25.

“The Government of India believes that asylum seekers, while applying for asylum to a foreign government, denigrate the system in India to obtain personal gains despite the fact that India, being a democratic country, provides avenues for everyone to redress their grievances lawfully,” Singh said in the reply to a question. “Our missions and posts abroad regularly liaise with the local authorities, and upon verification of their identity and nationality, extend possible consular assistance and issue necessary travel document to facilitate their return to India,” he added.

Of the Indian asylum seekers detained in the United States over charges of trying to enter the country illegally, 52 persons are held at the Sheridan prison in Oregon while 42 others are held at the Otero County Detention Center in New Mexico. Several others are held at other federal detention facilities such as Victorville Medium II in California, Federal Correctional Facility in Phoenix in Arizona, and a federal detention facility in Washington state. Many of  them are Sikhs from Punjab who are seeking asylum in the United States claiming religious persecution in India.

About 7,400 Indian nationals sought asylum in the United States in 2017, according to the annual Global Trends report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency. Indians were among the largest groups of people from a country who filed applications for asylum in the United States last year, the report, which was released on June 19, said.

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