WASHINGTON: More than 20,000 Indian nationals, mostly men, have sought asylum in the US since 2014, according to the latest figures.
Till July, a maximum number of 7,214 Indian nationals had applied for asylum in the US. Of these only 296 were women, according to the information provided by the US Department of Homeland Security to the North American Punjabi Association (NAPA).
California-based NAPA has been working among illegal immigrants from Punjab. As per the information obtained by the NAPA from Department of Homeland Security, 2,306 Indian nationals applied for asylum in the year 2014.
Of these 146 were women and the gender of one of the Indian applicants is not known. The next year, 2,971 Indians, including 96 women, sought asylum. In 2016, as many as 4,088 Indians, including 123 women, asked for asylum from the US.
In both 2015 and 2016, the gender of one applicant each was not known. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security received asylum from 3,656 Indians, including 187 women. "The number of Indian who are seeking asylum in the US has almost doubled in the last two years. This is an issue of concern for all of us," Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director of NAPA said in a statement.
Every year several thousand Indians, mostly from Punjab try their luck to settle abroad, he said alleging that each one of them pays between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 30 lakh per person to travel agents.
Observing that the US asylum law applies to those who have a well-founded fear of persecution "on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion," Chahal said those fleeing generalised crime and violence in their home country do not easily fit into these categories.
The Trump administration has introduced a number of controversial policies in line with its hardline stance on immigration.