IN THE eighteenth century the government of the United States passed the Naturalization Act making Asians ineligible for citizenship, with citizenship limited to whites only. Indian immigration, including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus began to come to the United States in the mid-19th century. More than two thousand Sikhs from Punjab were living on the West Coast by the end of 19th century as farmers.
In 1946 another immigration law was passed in the United States that allowed the government to set up a quota system, under which only 100 Indians would be selected to immigrate to the U.S. and become citizens. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 dramatically opened entry to the U.S. to immigrants including Indians other than traditional Northern European people.
In 1980s and 1990s more and more Indians started coming to the United States as immigrants and Permanent Visa Holders. They also came as visitors on the basis of being relatives of the immigrants; others came as normal visitors. Many Indians stayed after the expiration of the travel visa or visitor’s visa. This made them illegal aliens in the United States. Many Indian illegal aliens who had brought their children also grew underground in the shadow of legal status. These innocent children did not engage in any illegal behavior. It was not their own fault that they ended up in the United States. Slowly but surely the number of illegal aliens coming into the United States from all around the world started increasing by leaps and bound.
In 2012, the Obama administration proposed and established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the U.S. to protect people who came to this country as children, calling them Dreamers. The DACA program will protect many youngsters including Indians but not all of them. Many of these children are students in schools, colleges and universities.
The information obtained at the end of the first quarter of 2018 from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives the latest statistics – an estimated 7,028 undocumented Indian American students are DACA recipients, many who arrived as young children with their parents and have never been able to return to India.
According to the data from the Migration Policy Institute more than 17000 Indians are eligible to apply for the program. Afraid and scared to apply for relief under the DACA these Indians have lost faith in the compassion side of America because of the intentions and action of President Donald Trump who is bent on repealing this program. Those who are already registered under DACA know that their work permits would be taken away and the orders for the payment of the in-state tuition for undocumented college students will be withdrawn. The repeal of DACA could make recipients of the program immediately eligible for deportation.
A microscopic look at the statistics once again gives a grim picture of the state of affairs of illegal Indians in the US: There are 240,000 illegal Indians in America; 96,000 are living in the most wealthy and populous State, California ( report by SUNITA SOHRABJI, India-West Staff Reporter, March 8, 2018 http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/sessions-vs-california-undocumented-indian-americans-are-protected-by-state/article); and all over the US there are approximately 25,000 DACA eligible Indians.
There are many reasons why more than twenty five thousand Indian Dreamers are living across the US in various cities.
- Parents arrived illegally and brought their young children with them.
- Many groups working in India brought people into the US through Mexico. – smuggling.
- The children came to the U.S. as a visitor with parents, stayed here after the expiration of the visa.
- Indian business owners brought relatives from India, gave them jobs, encouraged them to stay even after the expiry of their visa.
- H1B visa abuses by Indian companies. A disgusting example:“…some of the H-1B employees that an Indian Hi Tech. company brought from India with promised salaries of up to $8,300 (Rs5.5 lakhs)per month instead received as little as $800 net per month and also made illegal deductions from workers’ salaries.”
- H1B visa holders brought families to the US on H-4 visa.
There are many other ways of staying as illegal immigrants in the US. Prashant Shah, Publisher, India Tribune newspaper knows the inside story. A portion of his editorial tells us how some of the Indians, even immigrants are living and behaving in these United States.
In 1996, stories about committing crimes by fellow Indians started surfacing in mainstream media. We found ourselves from bad to worst. Every now-and then, we read stories about unthinkable crime committed by fellow Indians in this country. Stories like – cruel treatment of maidservant by a multimillionaire business couple, burning of own two kids by disturbed father, shoplifting by a reputed businessman, drug trafficking by Desis, organized illegal buying and trading of truckloads of stolen goods and money laundering by young entrepreneurs, false claims and defrauding of insurance companies, and Medicaid malpractice by greedy doctors, scandalizing of political system, prostitute ring operations by some motel owners, inside trading by an Indian CEO of corporate America, leaking of classified of documents, illegal arms trading, hiring-for-killing by business brokers … and the list goes on and on. (BY Prashant Shah, Publisher, India Tribune, 3302 W. Peterson Avenue, December 11, 2010, Chicago, IL. USA 60659).
In the last eight years more disgusting developments have taken place in politics. The activities of Indians who are supporting politicians and business community in India and at the same time indulging in illegal and criminal activities in the US documented by Prashant Shah are prompting many Americans in the United States calling on Indians saying , ‘Go Back to India’.
At this time, along with other problems, we are praying for quick solution to the problem created by us, the Indians, and the Trump administration concerning the Dreamers, and hope sanity will prevail and Trump sees the light and ends this nightmare by repealing his executive order.
(The writer is a retired Industrial Engineer and Engineering Proposals Analyst, lives in Los Angeles, California.)