In recent years, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has promoted an environment in which religious minorities and political oppositionists have experienced growing discrimination.
Everyone from Muslims to Christians to ‘low-caste’ Hindus and members of India’s LGBTQ community has had to face threats of violence from extreme Hindu nationalists. For one man, Jashan Preet Singh, these ‘threats’ quickly became a reality.
As reported in the Alkamba Times, Singh, an openly gay man, grew up in a deeply conservative part of the Indian state of Punjab. Over the years, he faced daily discrimination in his hometown of Jalandhar, where the hate he received ranged from basic harassment to vicious beatings doled out by neighbors.
His family had largely turned its back on him, and without any support, he was left more and more vulnerable. Eventually, the violence came to a crest, with 15 to 20 people trying to kill him. “I ran away from there and saved my life. But they cut various parts of my body,” said Singh, who showed signs of having a mutilated arm and severed thumb.
One Man’s Journey to the United States to Seek Freedom From Persecution
After his attack, Singh was forced to flee his home country in the hopes of seeking asylum in the United States.
Asylum allows protections for those who can prove they have suffered persecution (or have a credible fear of harm) based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
However, with applications at a near standstill, legal routes into the country are few and far between. So in cases like Singh’s, when one’s life is on the line, it’s often easier to risk the dangerous journey into the U.S. across a foreign border to apply for asylum once on U.S. soil.
Singh’s brother put him in touch with an India-based ‘travel agency,’ which was part of a sophisticated (and expensive) human smuggling network. “He charged us a lot of money,” Mr Singh said. “[But] from France he got me to Cancun, and from there to Mexico City and north.”
In full, Singh’s journey took him first from India to Turkey, where he says, “Life was very tough.” From there, he was brought to France and then eventually to Cancun, Mexico City, and across the border. In total, the entire trip took him just over six months.
More and More Indian Migrants Are Entering the United States Through Dangerous Means
While some migrants are coming to the US for economic reasons, many more are fleeing persecution back home, said Deepak Ahluwalia, an immigration lawyer who has represented Indian nationals in Texas and California.
So, with tensions rising in their home country and legal routes into the United States extremely difficult to secure, many individuals are turning to masked ‘travel agencies.’ There, travel agents often outsource parts of the journey to partner criminal groups in Latin America.
Migrants are then often exposed to threats of robbery or extortion, plus extreme weather, injuries, and illness. Plus, with many journeys culminating in a final push on foot, families are often forced to walk upwards of 10 to 20 miles through harsh, remote terrain, often in extreme temperatures.
This was highlighted in 2019 when a six-year-old Indian girl from Punjab was found dead in a scorching desert outside of Lukeville, Arizona. Similarly, in 2022, the bodies of four Indian citizens — a man, woman, teen, and baby — were found in a remote part of Canada, where they were expected to have died while trying to cross the border in a snowstorm at unbearably cold temperatures.
What Happens After You Enter the United States? Get Assistance From an Attorney for Guidance
For those who manage to survive the harrowing journey across the border, the next step is to seek asylum. To do so, an individual must fill out an initial form in which they officially request asylum. From there, they will have to present their case before a judge and wait out multiple hearings — and at times even years of deliberation — before receiving a decision.
This lengthy process can be harrowing in itself, and it will always be to your advantage to work with an experienced attorney. So, if you’re hoping to seek asylum or need to speak with a licensed professional about your treatment at the border or time while held in a U.S. facility, do not hesitate to reach out to the California immigration lawyers at Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law. We are available to assist, and we are dedicated to fighting for your rights to seek out your dreams, free from persecution.
Call (559) 878-4958 or contact us online to schedule your confidential case review with no obligation.