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No info from US, India says can't take back 271 illegal immigrants without proof

Sadiq Naqvi | Updated on: 25 March 2017, 8:57 IST
(AFP photo)

The United States of America has said that there are 271 Indian illegal immigrants in the country, but is yet to provide details.

India's Ministry of External Affairs has made it clear that the deportation proceedings will only move forward once those details are made available and verified. It has also questioned the authenticity of the figures provided by US authorities.

“This is an ongoing matter. US authorities had conveyed to us some time back that out of certain statistics provided to them, 271 cases remained to be addressed. However, no details of these cases were provided. We have asked for the same,” Gopal Baglay, the spokesperson for the MEA, said.

Earlier, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had also told the Rajya Sabha: “Till we verify the nationalities of these people, how do we believe the claims in the list? We have asked the US government for more information, and told them that we will give an emergency certificate for their deportation only after establishing their Indian nationality.”

Swaraj, meanwhile, had also questioned the authenticity of these figures. “There are no authentic figures on the number of undocumented Indian immigrants in the US,” she reportedly said.

Prior examples

A senior diplomat had earlier told Catch that at times, the Americans and even the British had approached the Government of India with deportation requests of people they assumed to be Indians, sometimes just on the basis of their looks. The diplomat had explained how India has a consistent policy, and that India does accept its citizens, provided the government is able to verify their antecedents.

Beginning 2014, according to statistics given by Swaraj to Parliament, 576 people have been provided travel documents by the Indian government, so that they do not end up being imprisoned in a foreign country.

The Trump factor

India's concerns on the well being of its citizens have been on a rise since Donald Trump took over as the President of the United States.

Indians living in the US have been targets of racial attacks, like the one on Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas. “Strategic partnership is secondary... The safety of our people is our top priority,” Swaraj had told Parliament.

The government is also said to be worried about curbs on the H-1B visas, which could impact a large number of Indian professionals in the IT sector. The government has tried to allay those fears, saying it is in conversation with the US authorities on the matter.

Last year, when Barack Obama was still in the White House, India was among the 23 countries on Senator Chuck Grassley's 'visa- ban' list. The Republican Senator from Iowa alleged 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.

“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, was 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.”

Post Trump's victory, and given his tough stance on immigration, almost three lakh Indian Americans are said to be at the risk of either getting deported or facing a jail term.

A Pew study published in September 2016 reads: “The number of unauthorised immigrants born in India, for example, grew by about 130,000 from 2009 to 2014, to an estimated 500,000. Many unauthorised immigrants from these nations arrived with legal status and overstayed their visas, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics.”

First published: 24 March 2017, 20:54 IST