Number of Indians Entering U.S. Illegally From Mexico at All-Time High: Report

So far this fiscal year, over 3,400 Indians have been caught by U.S. border security agents at the El Centro town of California.


A record number of Indians is crossing the United States-Mexico border illegally, according to a report. Over 3,400 people from India have been caught trying to cross into the United States from Mexico so far this fiscal year by border security agents at the El Centro town of California, Fox News reported.

Agents arrest about five to 10 Indian nationals a day, the report said. While immigrants from Central America seek a life in America to escape from poverty and gangs, most Indians cite persecution based on politics, caste and religion to claim asylum in the United States.

Most young men, several of them Sikhs, seek asylum claiming political or religious persecution. Most women, on the other hand, claim they belong to a lower caste, and cite abuse or fear of retribution from families of higher caste to seek asylum in the United States.

The number of Indians apprehended at El Centro has increased from six in 2015 to 3,408 so far in fiscal year 2018, the report said. Tightening of norms for H-1B visas under the Trump administration, and emergence of right-wing groups in India is spurring an unprecedented increase in the number of Indians trying to enter the United States illegally. The figure rose to 2,028 in 2017 from 1,455 in 2016, as compared to nine, 13 and 32 persons in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The Indian immigrants are smuggled across countries such as Qatar and Ecuador, before they travel through the jungles of Colombia and Panama, and then cross Central America and Mexico to reach El Centro, the report cited El Centro Sector Chief Gloria Chavez as saying.

“Some of these organizations are charging Indian nationals up to $25,000 to get smuggled into the U.S.,” Chavez told the publication. “These traffickers, they are winning on this. Law enforcement is not.”

Agents also find it hard to communicate with Indian nationals. While most officials at the border are fluent in Spanish, they do not know Punjabi. “Communication is very, very hard,” El Centro agent Justin Casterhone said, according to the report. “When trying to communicate, we are gonna have to get the interpreter to get the entire story.”

Several Indians travel without any identification documents. “Many use their lack of identification to claim to be one person in Mexico and another one in the United States,” Chavez said. “In Mexico, they claim to be an adult because unaccompanied minors under 18 are arrested. In the U.S., the opposite is true. Here, they claim to be juveniles so they must be released.”

Asylum seekers in the United States who don’t have a criminal history are usually released, and they head to a gurdwara for food and clothes, and then to a relative’s place until they are summoned for hearing in front of an immigration judge, which may take up to two years, the report said.

The number of Indians caught at various posts along the U.S-Mexico border rose by 50 percent between October 2017 and May 2018, the Hindustan Times reported earlier.

A total of 2,227 Indians were apprehended by officials from October 2016 to September 2017, the report cited Randy Capps, director of research, U.S. programs, Migration Policy Institute in Washington DC, as saying.

This was a dip from the 3,668 Indians detained at the U.S-Mexico border during October 2015-September 2016, perhaps because migrants were afraid of the steps the newly-sworn Trump administration would take in tackling illegal migrants, the report added. The number rose to 4,197 apprehensions between October 2017 and May 2018, Capps added.

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