Things That Matter

Many Of The Migrants Seeking Asylum In The US Are Not Latinx And Here’s Why That Matters

While much of the attention has been given to the Latinxs crossing the southern border, largely because they have been the targets of President Trump’s ire and the perception that only Latinxs would be entering via Latin countries, migrants from 50 countries have been detained. 

According to Roll Call, Customs and Border Protection say they have seen a rise in migrants from India, China, Egypt, Bangladesh, Romania, and Turkey. Much like the countries Central Americans are fleeing, these nations are also grappling with catastrophic instabilities whether it be climate change in Bangladesh, civil unrest in China, or fascism creeping further into India. 

Like all migrants, they want the same thing: a safe refuge from imminent threats to their humanity. However, their journeys to cross the southern border between Mexico and the United States is no easier. 

Rise in Indian migrants.

Migration from India has dramatically increased along the southern border with attorneys claiming they see an increase in clients persecuted for political affiliation, religious beliefs, caste or social status. Although Indian migrants are a mere 1 percent of the total migrants in 2018, the numbers have vastly increased by 4,811 percent since 2007. 

Roll Call’s analysis of CBP data saw an increase of Indian migrant apprehensions from 76 to 8,997 at the southern border. While Central American migrants face a unique set of obstacles, so do these groups. Immigration services are not equipped with language services, translated materials, or religious accommodations. While they can anticipate Spanish-speakers at the border, as migrants become more multicultural preparing for their arrivals can be all the more difficult. 

In the case of these particular migrants, “targeted prejudice has eroded any semblance of due process, advocates say, and makes these migrants even more vulnerable to reprisals while in detention.”

These obstacles don’t just affect European and Asian migrants, but indigenous ones as well. Attorneys, judges, and advocates say the immigration court system has become overwhelmed with a backlog of over 1 million cases because there is a lack of non-Spanish and indigenous language interpreters. 

Indian migrant goes on hunger strike due to mistreatment. 

The inhumane conditions migrants are subjected to have led to a plethora of related issues. Ajay Kumar and other Indian migrants were detained in New Mexico and felt he was treated so poorly he went on a hunger strike. Kumar told authorities there were no translated reading materials and that vegetarian food was mixed with meat which many could not eat. 

He was sent to an El Paso detention center where he and largely other migrants from India were force-fed following a court order. His lawyers say he was placed in medical isolation, called a troublemaker, and had his mala (or Hindu rosary) taken away from him. Kumar was held down and forced to eat and drink while his immigration case was threatened by officials. After 72 days of his hunger strike, he was moved to a long-term care facility. Still, Kumar believes his best chance at life is in the United States. 

“USA is a very good country and there is no other country as helpful and strong as this,” Kumar wrote while in the hospital. “I only hope for my freedom and I hope for help from the people of El Paso.” 

A 6-year-old migrant girl from India died at the southern border. 

Just before her 7th birthday, Gurupreet Kaur crossed the southern border over the summer. Arizona temperatures reached 108 degrees. Gurupreet’s mother left her with another mother and daughter while she went to search for water. The two groups, who wandered a very remote area, were never able to find each other again. A day later, Border Patrol agents discovered Gurupreet’s remains. 

“We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States,” her parents’ said in a statement released by the nonprofit Sikh Coalition. “We trust that every parent, regardless of origin, color or creed, will understand that no mother or father ever puts their child in harm’s way unless they are desperate.”

The mother and daughter were trying to meet the girl’s father who had been in the U.S. since 2013 with a pending asylum application in New York immigration court. The pair were with three other migrants from India. 

Advocacy groups say government policies are to blame for these tragedies which are affecting more and more communities of color. 

Advocacy groups fight back. 

Immigration advocacy groups continue to challenge these harmful policies in the courts. The Sikh community in the United States and other South Asian advocates have expressed much outrage. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) noted that while DHS and CBO budgets have increased significantly, the treatment of migrants has only degraded. 

“As US Customs and Border Protection has escalated border enforcement and aggressively turned away migrants attempting to cross at ports of entry, deaths have continued to mount,” SAALT said in a statement. “Migrants are forced right back into the dangerous conditions that CBP and other federal agencies often blame on migrant traffickers and smugglers.”

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