Chasing American dreams: Reasons behind surge in illegal immigrants to the US from India

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New Delhi | Published: July 8, 2019 3:16:17 PM

Human trafficking is caused by gang wars, violence, civil war and hunger, in several countries across the globe and people, travel around seeking safety, peace, and happiness.

According to the US Customs and Border Patrol, around 8997 Indians were caught entering the US illegally in 2018, in what is considered to be a dramatic increase from 2943 in 2017.

Human trafficking is caused by gang wars, violence, civil war and hunger, in several countries across the globe and people, travel around seeking safety, peace, and happiness.

Gang Wars in Central America are pushing out people to seek asylum in the US. But with the Trump administration coming hard on the illegal immigrants — life is anything but easy for them.

Last month, when the body of a seven-year-old Indian girl in a treacherous desert area in the state of Arizona was found, it immediately put the spotlight on rising illegal immigrants from India attempting to get into the US through the jungles of Mexico.

According to the US Customs and Border Patrol, around 8997 Indians were caught entering the US illegally in 2018, in what is considered to be a dramatic increase from 2943 in 2017.  Mostly Punjabi and Hindi speaking people have been arrested by the US-Mexico Border Police. They avoid the US routes and other countries which required a transit visa to enter in Latin America. Sea route is also a way to get enter in Latin America. Human trafficking Smugglers (Agents) try to arrange to get enter in Cargo Vessels to get enter Latin American countries. Once victims enter the region, they start planning for the next moves.

The South American region has increasingly become a popular route of entry to the US used regularly both by the South Asian and migrants from other countries reeling under extreme violence or political unrest.

However, the current surge in numbers is unprecedented.

When compared to the thousands fleeing violence and poverty from Central American nations, the numbers are still very small. Mostly youth and young mothers with children are not averse to the idea of taking the treacherous routes to get to their country of preference—the US or Canada.

According to a top diplomat, the surge in numbers is perhaps the result of a combination of push factors and pull factors that as the Trump administration is seeking to harden the border and build a wall, now might be the time to come before conditions toughen further.

Though the rise in Indian-origin migrants apprehended at the Southwest border in recent months is notable, it is minimal compared to the total number of people apprehended by the authorities.

Most of the people come from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In the current financial year so far, only 7% of total apprehensions at the Southwest border were from other continents.

Last week, the world was shocked and heartbroken to see the image of a 23-month-old child embracing her father from El Salvador, as the bodies of the duo, floated on the Rio Grande River.

According to reports, around 546 migrant deaths were recorded in 2018 and 419 migrant deaths within 6 months were recorded from January to June in 2019. The official toll is yet to be released!

Sadly, it is the dream of a better life that is still making them risk dangerous journeys, through the air route, boats or even walking through the jungles.

In fact, the world is reacting to the fear of terrorism and human trafficking.

Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1987, the man who is known to have “silenced the guns in Central America’’, told Financial Express Online in an exclusive interaction, “Countries should not spend much on weapons. My country has no military, neither does Panama—they have no army constitutionally.”

That said, sadly everybody else has not taken his route. “Look at Haiti, the poorest in the world. I have traveled around the world and tried to convince leaders to do away with the armies…in sub-Saharan Africa met with ten prime ministers but was not able to persuade them,” said Arias.

In fact, he even confessed his fears when he said, “I continue to worry about many things in the LatAm region – incidentally, the 21st Century is not for the region.”

Back home, Maritime Information Sharing Workshop (MISW) 2019 was organized by the Indian Navy in New Delhi under the aegis of the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), Gurugram. Over 41 delegates from 29 countries of the Indian Ocean Region and beyond met and discussed issues including maritime terrorism, piracy, human and drug trafficking.

According to the official spokesperson of the Indian Navy Captain DK Sharma, “The workshop was organized to educate/inform the participating countries that by sharing information, we could track the vessels which are involved in human trafficking/drug trafficking under the guise of Merchant Marine.”

The Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing report of the US Department of States has pointed out that IUU fishing can also undermine port and maritime security, as criminal elements may use similar trade routes, landing sites, and vessels as used for trafficking arms, migrants, drugs, and other contraband.

“The bottom line is Domain Awareness which could best be achieved by sharing information and what all are the pre-requisite for achieving the best results,” Sharma added.

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