CHANDIGARH: United States authorities have started the process of deporting Punjabis, who are alleged to have landed on American shores illegally. The deportation process has already kicked into high gear, as, over the last few months, several hundred ‘illegal’ migrants have already been sent back to India.
Sources said over the last few months, several Punjab natives who are alleged to have stepped into the US soil illegally, were arrested by federal authorities and deported to India. Most of them were put on a Delhi flight from Chicago. “Over the course of the last three months, a few hundred illegal migrants from Punjab were deported to India,” said an official, who asked not to be named.
Opening up to this correspondent on the condition of anonymity, a few of these illegal migrants, hailing from Sultanpur Lodhi and Tarn Taran areas of Punjab, claimed around 50 of them were deported to Delhi on August 18, another 19 were sent back on August 22 and 36 on August 24. Nearly all of the alleged illegal aliens were put on Air India flights and flown back.
“Acting on orders from courts concerned, federal authorities started the process of deporting illegal migrants to India. Several of them are presently lodged in jails across Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi and California, among others,” one of the illegal migrants told this newspaper.
A farmer from Sultanpur Lodhi said he had to shell out Rs 35 lakh to send to the US in April, but he was arrested and put on a flight back to India. He said another five youths from the same town, who went with him, were also deported. He said there were 20 more illegal migrants on the flight his son was on.
“We crossed over into the US from Mexico. We were arrested and put in jail. The legal process lasted around two-and-a-half months before the court turned down our appeal and ordered us to be deported,” another illegal migrant said.
According to data released by the US Border Patrol, in 2018, as many as 8,997 Indians were apprehended while trying to cross over into the US through its south-west border. Sibash Kabiraj, regional passport officer, Chandigarh, claimed his office has no data on the youths deported. “However, every month, we get around 80 to 90 cases of deported youths applying for fresh passports,” he said.
Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director, North American Punjabi Association, said there’s no official data on how many Punjab natives were deported in the recent past. “I sought details under the Freedom of Information Act (US) a month ago. I’m hopeful of getting the official data soon.”