Washington, DC: Thousands of immigrants from India have crossed into the United States illegally in the last year through Mexico using what the Los Angeles Times calls “a mysterious and rapidly growing human-smuggling pipe-line.”
The immigrants, mostly young men from poor villages of Punjab or Gujarat states, say they are fleeing religious and political persecution, the daily said in a report from Harlingen on the southern tip of Texas.
More than 1,600 Indians have been caught since the influx began early last year, while an undetermined number, perhaps thousands, are believed to have sneaked through undetected, according to US border authorities, it said.
Hundreds have been released on their own recognizance or after posting bond, the Times said. “They catch buses or go to local Indian-run motels before flying north for the final leg of their months-long journeys.”
The influx shows signs of accelerating: About 650 Indians were arrested in southern Texas in the last three months of 2010 alone, the Times said, noting that Indians are now the largest group of immigrants other than Latin Americans being caught at the southwest border.
The migration is the “most significant” human-smuggling trend being tracked by US authorities, Kumar Kibble, deputy director of Immigra-tion and Customs Enforce-ment, (ICE) was quoted as saying by the Times.
In 2009, the Border Patrol arrested only 99 Indians along the entire Southwest border.
“It’s a dramatic increase,” Kibble said. “We do want to monitor these pipelines and shut them down because it is vulnerability. They could either knowingly or unknowingly smuggle people into the US that pose a national security threat.”
Most of the immigrants say they are from the Punjab or Gujarat states. “They are largely Sikhs, who say they face religious persecution, or members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who say they are targeted for beatings by members of the (Indian) National Congress Party,” the Times said.
Many Indians begin their journey by flying from Mumbai to Dubai, then to South American countries such as Ecuador or Venezuela, and Mexico, according to authorities and immigration attorneys cited by the US daily.