DELHI- In late December 2023, a flight carrying 303 Indian passengers bound for Nicaragua was grounded at a French airport, reigniting concerns about illegal immigration from India to the US and Canada.
It appears that in 2023, the U.S. deported at least one Indian per day, either for lacking proper documentation or entering and residing in the country unlawfully, as per data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Indians Departed from the US
The figures from ICE reveal that American authorities repatriated 370 Indians in the past year.
Between 2018 and 2023, a total of 5,477 Indians were deported from the U.S. to India for illegal entry and stay. ICE, established in 2003, resulted from the merger of the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Data from ICE indicated that the highest number of Indians, totaling 2,312, were deported in 2020, coinciding with the year when then U.S. President Donald Trump visited India in February.
In 2019, a total of 1,616 Indians were deported. This suggests that the peak in deportations of Indians occurred during Trump’s tenure.
A U.S.-based businessman of Gujarati origin, assisting immigrants in settling in the U.S., observed that American agencies intensified efforts against illegal immigration during the Trump era.
He mentioned that those deported were primarily from Gujarati and Punjabi communities, with many entering the U.S. without proper legal documentation. The businessman shared these insights with TOI while requesting anonymity.
Trump Promises Strict Regulations
Trump, who is currently leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, has committed to enhancing measures against illegal immigration and tightening restrictions on legal immigration if re-elected.
Nevertheless, the number of deportations is significantly lower than the count of Indians apprehended for illegal entry into the U.S.
According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a record-breaking 96,917 Indians were intercepted while unlawfully crossing into the U.S. during the fiscal year 2023, covering the period from October 2022 to September 2023.
Agency Investigating the Matter
The flight originating from Gujarat bound for Nicaragua, which was diverted back from France on suspicion of human trafficking, has prompted the police to question 20 passengers.
The State Crime Investigation Department (CID) is conducting an inquiry to unveil a potential illegal immigration network operating in Gujarat.
The passengers, asserting their intent to visit Nicaragua as tourists, are undergoing scrutiny regarding their financial transactions and document authenticity.
The CID has assembled four teams to investigate the promises made by agents facilitating illegal entry into the US. Nicaragua, the flight’s intended destination, is a favored choice for individuals seeking asylum in the US.
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