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More Indians in US custody for entering illegally than known before

At least 60 more Indians are being held at a New Mexico facility for crossing into the United States illegally, an Indian diplomat discovered during a consular visit on Tuesday, bringing the publicly-known number of people in custody across the country to at least 112.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2018 19:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Indians,custody,illegal immigrants
Most of the illegal Indian immigrants are Sikhs and Christians from Punjab and Haryana who sought refuge in the US alleging religious persecution.(Getty Images/Photo for representation)

At least 60 more Indians are being held at a New Mexico facility for crossing into the United States illegally, an Indian diplomat discovered during a consular visit on Tuesday, bringing the publicly-known number of people in custody across the country to at least 112.

Earlier reports had suggested there were at least 40 at the detention centre in Otero in New Mexico and that they had sought asylum alleging religious persecution in India.

There are an additional 52 at a detention facility in Sheridan, Oregon, who were apprehended during the enforcement of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigrants since past May.

According to Indian officials, the Otero detainees have been in US custody since last September and were apprehended during or after crossing over in Arizona and California states. They are said to be mostly from Punjab and Haryana.

The Indian diplomat met around 60 detainees as others refused to see him, which is not unusual for asylum seekers who are claiming persecution in their country of origin.

US immigration and customs enforcement, which runs these detention facilities, has not responded to questions about the Otero detainees and it was not immediately clear if they are being held for deportation or to process their asylum request.

The 52 Indian men held at the Sheridan centre in Oregon — who have described themselves as Sikhs and Christians — are being processed for deportation, a lawyer for the US justice department said during a court hearing on Monday.

First Published: Jun 27, 2018 09:52 IST