Tougher implementation of immigration laws in the U.S in the first year of Donald Trump presidency has resulted in 30 percent increase in arrests, compared to the previous year, but deportations have come down. While the overall number of undocumented people deported from the U.S in 2017 decreased from 2016, the number of Indians increased — 460 were deported last year compared to 353 in 2016. In 2015, 311 undocumented Indians were deported from the U.S, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Meanwhile, a report released by the administration linked its case for changing the immigration policy to national security and the ability of the immigrants to assimilate. An official speaking on background on Tuesday morning said 402 of the 549 people convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. since September 11, 2001 were foreign-born. “Those who come to this country must love this country, should speak English…” the official said, promising measures to ensure that only those who can contribute to the country’s prosperity and can assimilate will be allowed in.
ICE has said its enforcement raids targeting undocumented residents will continue in 2018. Last week, its agents raided dozens of 7-Eleven stores and arrested over 20 undocumented workers. Describing the raids as “a harbinger of what’s to come,” Derek N. Benner, acting head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigation had said: “This is what we’re gearing up for this year and what you’re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters.”
According to a Pew Research Centre study in 2016, there could be as many as five lakh undocumented Indians in the United States. Tougher enforcement of immigration laws could affect them. They have entered the country by crossing the border illegally or have overstayed their visas, and there is not much India can do for them diplomatically, officials familiar with the situation told The Hindu. Indian consulates in the U.S issue travel documents for them on an urgent basis, when sought, said officials. In 2017, Indian consulates issued 1229 travel documents, compared to 1000 in 2016 and 850 in 2015. Deportation and issuance of emergency travel documents cannot be directly correlated.
The U.S deported 2.26 lakh people in 2017, compared to 2.40 lakh in 2016 and a vast majority of them were from Mexico. Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador were the other countries top on the list. ICE has said the decrease in deportation is due to prevention at the border, and reduction in attempts by people to sneak into the U.S illegally, given the tough enforcement.
“It’s clear from the numbers that any large scale immigration raids, detentions and deportations deeply impact the South Asian community in the U.S. With 450,000 undocumented Indians — in addition to at least 23,000 Indians and Pakistani DREAMers — these raids, detentions and the lack of movement on DACA and a DREAM Act continue to implicate and impact South Asian communities in the U.S,” a statement by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said. ‘Dreamers’ are children who came to the U.S with their undocumented parents.
Among the cases cited by the administration’s report on Tuesday, is of one Indian-origin citizen of the U.S. Khaleel Ahmed came to India in 1998 as a family member of a naturalized United States citizen from India. He subsequently became a United States citizen through naturalisation – the process called ‘chain migration’ that the Trump administration wants to end. In 2010, Mr. Ahmad was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for being part of an international terror conspiracy.