Illegal Indian immigration to US jumps from six to 3,400

WASHINGTON: (Web Desk) Indians are one of the fastest-growing groups of illegal immigrants to the United States, travelling thousands of miles to enter the country from Mexico, the Fox News television reported on Saturday.

In 2015, US authorities caught six immigrants from India trying to cross into the US from Mexico.

“So far, this fiscal year, the figure is already at more than 3,400,” the report said.

Many use the tiny town of El Centro, California, to cross into the United States from Mexico. The US-Mexican border is divided into nine sectors and El Centro, a tiny 70-mile stretch, is the smallest.

El Centro Sector Chief Gloria Chavez told Fox News that this 8,000-mile journey starts in a town India an ends in El Centro. Indians generally fly to Qatar then Ecuador, then travel on foot or by bus through the jungles of Colombia and Panama, through Central America and Mexico to El Centro.

Ms Chavez said that while most Central Americans pay $8,000 to human traffickers to cross into the US, an Indian national pays up to $25,000.

On the way, they throw away the documents verifying their identity making it difficult for US authorities to identify and deport them.

Once in the US, they seek political asylum, claiming religious and political persecution at home.

“Communication is very, very hard,” said Justin Casterhone, who like most border agents in El Centro speaks fluent Spanish, but no Punjabi, the native language of most Indian asylum seekers.

“The Indian nationals usually head to the local Sikh Temple for a meal, change of clothes and a bus ticket. From there they will go live with relatives until an immigration judge can hear their case — typically a year or two later,” Fox News reported.

US border agents told Fox News they arrest roughly five to 10 Indian nationals a day, with most young men claiming asylum as victims of political or religious persecution.

Women, who often belong to a lower class in India’s stratified caste system, claim abuse or fear of retribution from families in a higher social class.

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