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Trump’s new immigration policy threatens up to 5 lakh Indians

Nearly 500,000 Indian-Americans are likely to be impacted by the Trump administration’s sweeping plans that put the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation

world Updated: Feb 22, 2017 22:13 IST
People rally with flags at Brooklyn Borough Hall as Yemeni bodega and grocery-stores shut down to protest US President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
People rally with flags at Brooklyn Borough Hall as Yemeni bodega and grocery-stores shut down to protest US President Donald Trump’s travel ban. (AFP Photo)

An estimated half a million Indians living illegally in the United States could be among those targeted under the Donald Trump administration’s plans unveiled on Tuesday to aggressively “facilitate the detection, apprehension, detention, and removal (deportation)” of undocumented immigrants.

President Donald Trumphas laid the groundwork for potentially deporting millions of undocumented immigrants by issuing new guidance that drastically broadens the ways in which federal immigration laws should be enforced.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, and upwards of 8 million of them are expected to find themselves targeted under the new policy. Only those who were illegally brought in to the country as children and the parents of children born here will be exempt.

The Indian government is aware that its nationals are illegally residing in the US, but does not know how many there are, for which it has relied on estimates by American think tanks and research groups. However, it expects to hear from the Trump administration if and when Indians are rounded up for deportation, as is the procedure.

On Tuesday, the department of homeland security issued two separate memos that will enforce executive orders Trump signed in January, calling for tighter border security and aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, including the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The memos aim to increase the number of border patrol agents and detention centers, use local local law enforcement officers to detect and detain undocumented immigrants and speed up deportation.

“The faithful execution of our immigration laws is best achieved by using all these statutory authorities to the greatest extent practicable,” John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, wrote in one of two memos.

Indians form a tiny portion of those residing illegally in the US, with the Pew Research Center, in a September 2016 study, estimating that number to be 500,000 in 2014. However, the study also stated that India was the fastest growing “country of origin” of illegal immigrants into the US, with the number inccreasing from 350,00 in 2009.

Illegal immigrants from India have generally escaped the kind of scrutiny that others have attracted — partially because of their small numbers relative to the larger cohort and partially because of the success stories of those legally here. India is also among the top sources of legal immigrations, accounting for 77,908 Lawful Permanent Residents (green cards) in 2014.

Undocumented immigrants from India are mostly a mix, anecdotally, of those who arrived here on legitimate visas such as tourists, students and temporary workers and have stayed on, going “out of status”.

And there are those who made it through the southern border with Mexico, at the end of a long and torturous journey using for final stage the same human smuggling network responsible for the bulk of illegal arrivals.

Around 5.8 million undocumented immigrants in the US are from Mexico, comprising 5.8 million of the total. According to Pew, most illegal immigrants — 64% in 2014 — had been in the US for 10 year or more; only 14% had been here for five years or less.