The most recent data from the US Customs and Border Protection (UCBP) reveals a record-breaking surge in the apprehension of Indian nationals attempting to enter the United States illegally. Between October 2022 and September 2023, a staggering 96,917 Indians were arrested while crossing the US border without proper authorization.
This surge in Indians attempting to cross the US border unlawfully represents a five-fold increase over the past few years. To put this into perspective, in 2019-20, the number of Indians apprehended was 19,883. In the following year, 2020-21, this number rose to 30,662. By 2021-22, the figure had skyrocketed to 63,927.
The geographical distribution of these arrests is notable, with 30,010 individuals caught on the Canadian border and 41,770 at the US-Mexico frontier. These apprehended individuals are categorized into four distinct groups: Accompanied Minors (AM), Individuals in a Family Unit (FMUA), Single Adults, and Unaccompanied Children (UC).
Single adults constitute the largest category, with a staggering 84,000 Indian adults crossing into the United States illegally in fiscal year 2023. Additionally, 730 unaccompanied minors were among those arrested during this period.
It’s essential to note that the US federal government’s fiscal year spans from October 1 to September 30.
In a separate development, Senator James Lankford shed light on the lengths some of these individuals go to in their journey to reach the US. Senator Lankford mentioned on the Senate floor that many of these individuals take multiple flights, sometimes including layovers in countries like France, in order to reach Mexico, which serves as the closest airport for their intended border crossing. From there, they take a bus, often arranged by criminal cartels, to reach the US-Mexico border, where they aim to enter the United States.
Senator Lankford also highlighted a concerning aspect of this situation, where individuals claim to be fleeing their home countries due to fear. He stated, “So they can say, ‘I have fear in my country.'”
Moreover, Senator Lankford has consistently emphasized that criminal cartels in Mexico are coaching migrants from various parts of the world on what to say and where to go in order to navigate the asylum process effectively and gain entry into the United States while awaiting an asylum hearing.
He expressed his concern that the United States appears to be one of the few nations still adhering to this approach, stating, “Listen, this doesn’t make sense to just about everyone in the world. Just about everyone in the world has shifted on this except for us. We’re literally inviting people from all over the world to exploit our system.”
Senator Lankford underscored the fact that asylum and refugee status are equivalent under international law. A refugee flees their home country out of fear of persecution and seeks refuge in a designated refugee center, eventually declaring to the United Nations their dramatic fear of persecution in their home country. The UN, in response, facilitates their relocation to various parts of the world, including the United States.
Senator Lankford stressed that asylum seekers are supposed to follow the same international standard, which entails going to the nearest safe place and requesting asylum there. However, the United States appears to deviate from this standard in its policy and practices regarding asylum seekers.