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Have Republicans gone crazy? US Senator now wants to ban Indians

Sadiq Naqvi | Updated on: 29 June 2016, 21:15 IST

India is among the 23 countries on Senator Chuck Grassley's 'visa- ban' list. The Republican Senator from Iowa alleges that these countries do not cooperate in taking back illegal immigrants. And that the Obama administration should take a decision to ban immigrant and non-immigrant visas to them. The letter comes in the Presidential elections season, which has seen some bizarre anti-immigration statements by the Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. He had asked for scrapping of the H1-B visa, which has benefited Indian professionals.

The sources in the Ministry of External Affairs, however, countered the Senator's claim. They say that India has a consistent policy and that India does accept its citizens, provided the government is able to verify their antecedents. The official spokesperson, declined to comment on the issue, since it's a claim made by an individual and not an official statement of the US government.

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It is learnt that at times, the Americans and even the British have approached the Government of India with deportation requests of people they assumed to be Indians because of their looks. "We have to verify that if the concerned person is an Indian citizen or not before we act on the request," an MEA official says.

US President Barack Obama, taking the Indo-US relationship to another level, had recently announced India as a major defence partner. Moreover, India and the US have signed another Memorandum of Understanding which paves way for India's entry into the Global Entry, a US Customs and Border Protection programme which would ensure hassle free entry of low risk Indian travellers on their arrival in the US.

What did the Senator claim?

"Dangerous criminals, including murderers, are being released every day because their home countries will not cooperate in taking them back," Grassley said in a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. He claimed that in 2015 alone, 2,166 individuals were released in the United States, while more than 6,100 were released in the preceding two years and that they were roaming free in the country. India, according to the Senator, is among the five top recalcitrant countries, which also included China, Ghana, Cuba, and Somalia. "Lives are being lost, the public's safety is at risk, and American families are suffering," Fox News quoted Grassley as saying. "It cannot continue."

"Under section 243(d), the Secretary of State is required to discontinue granting immigrant or non-immigrant visas to a country upon receiving notice from you that the country has denied or is unreasonably delaying accepting a citizen, subject, national or resident of that country," he reminded Johnson of the Congress addressing this problem in the particular section of Nationality and Immigration Act. This essentially means that the Senator is demanding that no visas, including the Student, the H1-B or the greencards be not issued to citizens of countries which are not co-operating.

Grassley, who is also the chairman of the Senate's Judicial Committee, also claimed that this option, the only time when it was used against Guyana had ensured cooperation from the country within two months. .

While Grassley hasn't made any bizarre statement like Trump, this letter seems to be consistent with his harsh anti-immigration stance. Recently, after a eight judge US Supreme Court bench deadlocked in a case that challenged Obama's plan to protect an an estimated five million undocumented immigrants and even give them work permits, Grassley had welcome the outcome. "The Supreme Court's decision that keeps in place the Fifth Circuit ruling is a win for the American people, and especially American workers. It underscores the rule of law and the system of government set up by the founding fathers." Grassley had reportedly said.

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Edited by Aditya Menon

First published: 29 June 2016, 21:15 IST