In the past few years, the US has seen a significant increase in the number of Indian citizens seeking refuge in America. The BBC reports that less than ten years ago, in 2014, fewer than 2,000 Indian nationals were detained by Border Patrol at the US-Mexico border.
By 2018, that number had hit an all-time high of 8,997; then, in 2022, the number nearly doubled to 16,290.
What’s Behind the Increase in Indians Seeking Asylum in the US?
There are multiple reasons that more people are leaving India, according to immigration attorney Deepak Ahluwalia, who has represented immigrants seeking asylum in Texas and California.
“While some immigrants are coming to the US for economic reasons, many are fleeing persecution back home,” says Ahluwalia.
Groups who may be at higher risk of persecution include Muslims, Christians, or other religious minorities, “low-caste” Hindus, people with certain political beliefs, or LGBTQ individuals.
One such immigrant is Manpreet, a 20-year-old who asked to be identified only by his first name. Manpreet was an outspoken critic of India’s ruling BJP and says he left the country after being persecuted for his political opinions.
Manapreet’s long journey began in Ecuador, where he took a bus to Columbia, followed by another bus to Panama. After that, he switched to a boat, which carried him to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico. From there, he entered the US through the US-Mexico border.
Most Indians fleeing persecution take similar journeys with the aid of smugglers, but unfortunately, doing so can be a dangerous proposition.
Some immigrants are robbed or extorted by local criminals or shaken down by corrupt authorities. Others suffer injuries, illness, or the effects of extreme weather.
In one tragic case, a six-year-old girl traveling with her mother died of heat stroke near the US-Mexico border. Temperatures that day had climbed to 108 degrees.
But people who are forced to leave their home country due to persecution have few other options if they can’t enter the country through official ports.
Jessica Bolter, an analyst at the Washington DC-based Migration Policy Institute, explains that when immigrants successfully enter the country this way, they often recommend the smugglers to friends and family back home.
While she notes that this can lead to a “ripple effect” of immigrants using unsafe smuggling services, she also points out that immigrants must want to leave in the first place.
Get Help With Your Immigration or Asylum Case
Seeking asylum or otherwise immigrating to the US is a complex process, and data shows that asylum seekers are more likely to receive approval with the help of an immigration lawyer.
If you or a loved one want to seek asylum or have other immigration concerns like achieving legal residency or acquiring work authorization, please contact Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law for a free, confidential consultation.
Lead attorney Deepak Ahluwalia is a trusted immigration expert who has been interviewed by the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, and other worldwide news sources.