by Elton Gomes
The Indian embassy in the US has managed to establish contact with two immigration detention centres where nearly 100 Indians have been detained. It is reported that most of the detained immigrants are from Punjab and have been detained for illegally entering the US through its southern border.
According per officials, around 40 to 45 Indians are at a federal detention centre in the American state of New Mexico. 52 more Indians – largely Sikhs and Christians – are detained in Orgeon. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed that at least 42 of the detainees at the Otero County Detention Centre in New Mexico are Indians.
It has been reported that Indians constituted the largest group of detainees out of the total 123 illegal immigrants held at the facility in Sheridan, Oregon. A group of Democratic lawmakers from Orgeon State recently visited the detention centre. The lawmakers later told the media about the alleged inhuman conditions of the illegal immigrants.
The Indian embassy said in a statement: “A consular official has visited the detention facility in Oregon and another one is scheduled to visit the detention facility in New Mexico. We are monitoring the situation.”
News agency PTI reported that more than a dozen of these immigrants have been detained at the New Mexico facility for months. The remaining Indians were brought to the detention centre almost a week ago. Indian officials are slightly uncertain as to when these people were detained. The ICE has provided Indian missions the names of the detainees from Oregon and New Mexico.
Most of the detainees at the federal facilities are seeking asylum as they claim to have “experienced violence or persecution” in their home country. Citing local news daily The Oregonian, Hindustan Times reported that some of the Indians claimed that they were fleeing persecution by Hindu majority in India. Hindustan Times could not immediately confirm whether the Indians had been separated from their families.
Alleged nexus of human traffickers, officials, and politicians
Satnam Singh Chahal, of the North American Punjabi Association (NAPA), claims that there exists a nexus of human traffickers, officials, and politicians in Punjab. They urge young Punjabis to leave their homes to illegally enter the US, and charge each individual Rs 35-50 lakhs.
“Human trafficking is a criminal act which affects the global community and consequently Punjabis are too victims of this episode. The Punjabis’ enthusiasm to migrate to affluent countries in search of greener pastures has given the traffickers [a chance] to exploit them,” Chahal said, as per a PTI report. Chahal has urged the Punjab government to enforce strict laws against human trafficking.
Immigration attorney Akansha Kalra states that the largest number of Indians illegally entering the US are from Gujarat and Punjab.
“They (Indians) pay around ₹35-40 lakhs to human smugglers just to help them cross the border. With this kind of administration’s policy, hopefully they would get deterred by it. But so far they keep on coming,” Kalra said, as reported by PTI.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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