The death of an Indian man from Gujarat, who fell to his death in trying to climb a border wall into Texas, has put the spotlight on illegal immigration from India and South Asia to the United States, which has shown a sudden surge along the border with Mexico in the last two months.
Brijkumar Yadav fell to his death on December 14, 2022, while holding his three-year-old son and climbing the border wall built by the Trump administration between San Diego and Mexico. His wife also fell, but on the U.S. side and survived and the child was reunited with her, according to reports.
On the border with Canada, Jagdishkumar Patel, 39, his wife Vaishaliben, 37, and their daughter Vihangi, 11, and son Dharmik, 3, were found frozen to death on January 19, 2022.
U.S. Border Patrol caught 4,297 Indians crossing the Mexican border in October and November, compared to 1,426 during those two months last year and 16,236 in all of the fiscal year that ended in September, according to US government data.
Overall, the number of Indians apprehended by US authorities right on the border and elsewhere has more than doubled since last year.
U.S. authorities encountered 63,927 Indians who had entered the country illegally, during the 2021-22 fiscal year that ended in September, a 109 per cent increase from the 30,662 they found the previous fiscal year, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.
In just the last two months, a total of 13,655 illegal immigrants from India were caught compared to 6,865 during those two months in 2021, the data showed.
In the fiscal year 2019-20, the number of Indians illegally in the U.S. who were apprehended by the CBP was only 19,883, according to the agency.
Indians are only a part of the phenomenon of Illegal migration to the US that has been spiraling since the election of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been tasked to stop the flow of migrants from Latin America.
Although Harris has asserted that the border is “secure”, U.S. authorities have registered 2.77 million encounters with people of different nationalities illegally in the US during the fiscal year that ended in September, up 41 per cent from the 1.96 million in the previous period.
In 2019-20, there were only 646,822 encounters.
The Biden administration that has been struggling to cope with the surge of people trying to enter the U.S. illegally at the southern border received a reprieve from the Supreme Court on Tuesday, even though it glibly opposed it.
Biden had kept in place a rule instituted as a health measure because of the Covid pandemic by former President Donald Trump to return Latin Americans from most countries to Mexico when they are caught but revoked it in May under pressure from his Democratic Party’s left.
A group of Republican state officials went to court against it and the Supreme Court temporarily stayed the revocation till February, staving off an expected rush to the border.
The rule known as Title 42 is not used against Indians and people from outside Latin America as Mexico will not take them back.
The illegal migration numbers are only of those caught by the CBP and several more would have successfully evaded authorities and those who entered legally but overstayed their visas making their presence in the country illegal are not included in the data.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the latest period for which data is available, 14,389 Indians were suspected of overstaying, up from 13,203 the previous year, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
On the northern border with Canada, where an Indian family of four were found frozen to death about a dozen meters from the US border in January, 84 Indians have been apprehended in the last two months.
During the US fiscal year ending September 237 Indians had been caught there, compared to 42 in the previous 12 months and 129 in the period before that.
Most of those caught by U.S. authorities are released, usually with a notice to appear before an immigration judge, but with little or no follow-up and few are detained.
A breakdown by nationality of how those caught by the CBP were dealt with was not available.
According to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a database maintained by Syracuse University, 34,230 asylum cases of Indians were pending before Immigration courts last month.
People can ask for asylum on various grounds including fear of religious or political persecution, domestic violence and threats due to sexual orientation but will have to prove it to a judge.
In the fiscal year 2019-20, the latest period for which data is available from the Homeland Security Department, 1,337 Indians were granted asylum, down from the 2,256 who received it the previous year.
In 2017-18, 1,302 Indians received asylum, according to the Department.
A breakdown of reasons for granting asylum was not available.
TRAC provides a breakdown by languages spoken by those whose asylum cases are pending and Punjabi-speakers, who could be from India or Pakistan or elsewhere, numbered 21,961. There were 6,770 Hindi-speakers, 6,315 Bengali-speakers, who could be from India or Bangladesh or elsewhere, and 376 Tamil-speakers, who could be from India, Sri Lanka or other countries.
In addition, TRAC listed 222 Haryanvi-speakers, 166 Telugu-speakers and 32 Marathi-speakers.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2,312 Indians were deported from the US during 2019-20, and 1,616 in 2018-19.
The deaths at the border of Indians involved families, but most of the Indians apprehended by US officials are single adults. They constituted 56,739 of those caught in 2021-22 and 11,780 in the last two months.
Those who came in as families were 6,577 in the last fiscal year and 1,736 in the last two months.