This summary about immigrants crossing the U.S. border from India was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.
Since the start of fiscal year 2022, which began last October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has detained over 16,000 citizens of India. That’s five times as many Indian migrants that arrived at the border last year. The previous high came five years ago, with nearly 9,000 Indian citizens arriving in 2018.
- Learn more: Get the data
People coming to the border from India and seeking asylum is not new. From fiscal years 2017 to 2020 under the Trump administration, more than 20,000 Indian nationals sought asylum at the southern border.
Several reasons behind the increase: A climate of discrimination in India has led many to desperately seek a chance at safety. Jashan Preet Singh, 24, an openly gay man, traveled nearly 8,000 miles from India through Turkey and France to California to escape harassment and beatings by neighbors. He told the BBC about 20 people tried to attack him before he journeyed to the U.S. and it left him with a mutilated arm and severed thumb.
Other Indians have fled home for economic reasons. Experts also point to an increase in the operations of smugglers, as well as the perception that border restrictions under the Biden administration are weaker compared to Trump’s.
The Guardian quoted U.S. immigration lawyers in 2020 saying the rise in undocumented Indian migration is connected to “the rise of the Hindu nationalist ruling party and the sectarian violence it has inspired.”
An expensive undertaking: Sandeep Wasnik, a business consultant in Latin America, told Financial Express that human traffickers who operate flights charge around $20,000 to $75,000 for travel to the U.S. and European countries. They face possible robberies, rape, extortion, and even death on their journey — and upon reaching the U.S. they still face the long legal process to apply for asylum.
- Learn more: Last year, the U.S.’ India travel ban left hundreds of employees stranded
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