Surge in Indian Migrants Makes Them The Third Largest Undocumented in U.S.

Illegal immigration from India is on the rise in the U.S., making this South-Asian immigrant group the largest outside of Latin American nations.

A New Border Minority

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While illegal border migration from Latin American countries into the U.S. has become a national crisis, and Chinese migration has also become a national security talking point, another country is often left out of these conversations: India. 

Illegal Indian Migration on the Rise

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But rapidly rising illegal immigration numbers from India and a recent Homeland Security dialogue between the U.S. and India have brought the topic to the public foreground.

U.S.-India Homeland Security

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Between February 27 and 29, U.S. and Indian officials met in Delhi to hold the U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue, which focused on strengthening partnerships and cooperation as it pertained to counternarcotics and counter-terrorism.

New Pathways Open, Others May Close

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But the discussions also touched on immigration. U.S. Deputy Secretary Kristie Canegallo and Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla discussed plans to open easier pathways for lawful immigration for Indian nationals, as well as making it easier for the U.S. to deport migrants who had arrived in the country unlawfully. 

Unprecedented Border Encounters

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The conversation is much needed, as U.S. border authorities have recorded an unprecedented number of undocumented Indian migrants arriving through U.S. borders by foot.

Five-Fold Increase in 4 Years

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Their numbers have increased five-fold between 2019 and 2023. Between 2019 and 2020, there were ​​19,883 encounters with Indian migrants at U.S. borders, compared to 96,917 encounters between 2022 and 2023, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. 

Third-Largest Group

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According to 2021 estimates by the Pew Research Center, Indians are now the third-largest undocumented immigrant group in the U.S.

They are the only non-Latin American country to rank in the top five. And of course, since 2021 their numbers have increased considerably. 

70% Increase

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CBP data also shows that undocumented Indian immigrant numbers have jumped by 70% since 2011, making them the fastest-growing immigrant group in the U.S. overall. 

Post-Covid Rush

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Like immigrant statistics across many nationalities, Indian border encounters saw a significant uptick toward the end of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

These thousands of people are being sent by immigration agents in India, who send them to Mexico or Canada where they are transported to the southern and northern borders, to walk directly into the U.S.

Reasons to Leave

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Experts have pointed to the growing oppression of minority groups in India, excessive backlogs for visa applications, and relative ease of U.S. border access as some of the reasons that illegal immigration from the country has jumped.

Why Wait for a Visa?

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“The Southern border has just become a staging ground for migrants from all parts of the world to come to the U.S. most quickly,” said Muzaffar Chishti, the New York director for the Migration Policy Institute.

“Why would you wait for a visitor visa in Delhi if you can make it faster to the Southern border?”

A Long Process

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But the overall journey is not as simple as flying straight to the border. Instead, many Indian immigrants must go through a long, complicated process of flying through multiple countries before they can reach the U.S.

First Leg of the Trip

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“People will get you to, let’s say, the Middle East, or people will get you to Europe,” Chishti said.

“The next journey from there would be to Africa. If not Africa, maybe then to South America.”

Onward to South America

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“Then the next person will get you from South America to the south of Mexico. Then from the south of Mexico to the northern cities of Mexico, and then the next person will get you over to the U.S.”

A “Culture of Migration”

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According to Devesh Kapur, a professor of South Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University, a “culture of migration” has also been created among Indian people who face job shortages and look to the U.S. for more opportunities.

Middle-Class Migrants

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Many of these migrants and migrant hopefuls are not part of “the desperately poor” who face severe poverty and hardship in India but instead come from the most prosperous regions in the country.

More Complicated Deportation Process

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Unlike Mexican and other Latin-American immigrant groups, sending Indian migrants back to their country is a more complicated matter, hence the reason it became a targeted issue for the recent U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue in Delhi. 

Immigration Arrests

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Just a few days prior to the diplomatic meeting, a man named Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel was arrested for facilitating an illegal border crossing for a family of four who died while making the crossing from Manitoba, Canada, to Minnesota.

A Tragic Consequence

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Jagdish and Vaishali Patel and their eleven-year-old daughter and three-year-old son were found frozen to death just 7 miles from the U.S.-Canada border.

Patel was involved with the illegal immigration racket that arranged the family’s journey from Gujarat.

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The post Surge in Indian Migrants Makes Them The Third Largest Undocumented in U.S. first appeared on Thrift My Life.

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