Indian Child Dies Crossing the US Border As Family Seeks a Better Life

Indian Child Dies Crossing the US Border As Family Seeks a Better Life

A family whose 6-year-old daughter died of heat stroke near the US-Mexico border in June of 2019 says they were desperately trying to give their child a better life.

“We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter, and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States,” the couple said in a statement released on their behalf by the Sikh Coalition. “We trust that every parent, regardless of origin, color or creed, will understand that no mother or father ever puts their child in harm’s way unless they are desperate.”

The child, Gurupreet Kaur, was just six years old when she and her mother attempted to cross the border to be with the child’s father, whose asylum application is pending in a New York immigration court. Gurupreet and her mother were with a group of Indian migrants who were dropped off by smugglers in a remote area of the desert. They were told to walk north, and they did so in temperatures that reached 108 degrees.

Gurupreet’s mother, who did not want to be identified due to privacy concerns, left the group with another woman in the hopes of finding water. Unfortunately, they became separated from the group and could not relocate them. Eventually, they were intercepted by border patrol agents, who searched for the others and found Gurupreet’s body on June 12. The other immigrants from the group were also located and were transported to a hospital.

Gurupreet’s mother was eventually released from an Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) facility and permitted to travel from Arizona to New York. She is now waiting for a court date to begin her asylum case.

The family’s attorney, immigration lawyer Deepak Ahluwalia, explained to CNN that the mother would also seek asylum in the US. He believes that she was facing persecution in India, which is not an uncommon problem.

In fact, more South Asians have been seeking asylum in the US in recent years, primarily because of religious and political persecution in their countries of origin. In 2017, there were about 630,000 undocumented Indians residing in the US, representing an increase of 72 percent since 2010. In many cases, they are undocumented due to overstaying visas.

Lakshmi Sridaran, interim co-executive director of the civil rights organization South Asian Americans Leading Together, notes that multiple communities are affected by border-crossing difficulties. “The increase in South Asian migrants attempting to cross the U.S. Mexico border demonstrates that the range of communities impacted by our militarized border continues to grow.” 

Gurupreet Kaur’s parents said in a statement that they continue to hope for a new life in the United States. “We will carry the burden of the loss of our beloved Gurupreet for a lifetime. But we will also continue to hold onto the hope that America remains a compassionate nation grounded in the immigrant ideals that make diversity this nation’s greatest strength.”

Learn More About Seeking Asylum or Immigrating to the US

Immigration is a complicated process, and there are many potential challenges immigrants might face. If you want to seek asylum in the US or need assistance with other aspects of the immigration process, please contact Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law and lead immigration attorney, Deepak Ahluwalia. Mr. Ahluwalia is a trusted resource for immigration information and has been interviewed by the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, and other news organizations.