India among top suppliers of illegal immigrants to US

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Nov 21, 2014 00:28 IST

As President Barack Obama prepares to announce major immigrations initiatives on Thursday, India has quietly emerged among top source of illegal immigrants to the US.

India figured among top five countries of origin for illegals in 28 of the country’s 50 states in a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report released on Wednesday.

Mexico heads the list in almost every state, by a wide margin, with India battling for the next top-five positions with El Salvador, Guatemala, China and Honduras. But Indian illegal haven’t got as much attention as others because, one, their numbers remain comparatively small and, two, they are largely well-educated and skilled.

“There is a certain aura around Asian immigrants in general and Indian and Chinese immigrants in particular,” MPI’s senior demographer Jeanne Batalova told Hindustan Times.

And that let’s them remain under the radar, she added. There are an estimated 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants living in the US, whose future has become a hotly debated political issue in recent years.

India accounts for 4% of them, according to a report by PEW research center released earlier this week, which has put the number of illegals from there at 450,000.

There are 3 million Indians living in the US legally, including Americans of Indian descent and Indian citizens working here on H-1B, L and other visa types, or studying.

Some of the states with the Illegal immigrants from India among the top are Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, North and South Carolinas, Georgia and Maryland. A trend line to chart the growth state wise is not available yet.

MPI’s Batalova said Indian illegals are mostly of two kinds. One, tourist or business visa-holders who over-stayed, or those who came on student of H-1B visas.

“They tend to overstay because of the difficult process of renewing the visa,” she said. typically, they have to leave whatever they are doing, go back and apply afresh.

Two, those that may be in line for their Green card but because it takes so long given the massive backlog, the change jobs or status and just “overstay without realizing it”.

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