Fears about irregular migration are back to haunt India with the government figures showing that there are currently over 20 million such people who have sneaked into the country.
"There are over 20 million irregular migrants in India, which is more than the number of irregular migrants in both the European Union (EU) and the US," said G. Gurucharan, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Thursday at the National Stakeholder's Workshop for Prevention of Irregular Migration.
"Our open borders with Bangladesh and Nepal have placed us in a difficult situation with immigrants entering the country from there," he said.
Studies by the United Nations Organisation on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) identify India as an important country of origin, transit and destination for migrant workers.
Though majority of migrants head mainly to Gulf countries and Malaysia, the trend shows a periodic increase in migration flows towards the US, Canada and EU member states.
The UNODC study also reveals that every year more than 20,000 young people from the states of Punjab and Haryana attempt irregular migration and the trend is spreading to Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir too.
"Irregular migration cannot be dealt with in isolation in a macro-economic situation. Policies that the government adopts towards migration and immigration will significantly impact our ability to respond to the problem of irregular migration," he added.