A record number of 96,917 Indians were arrested while crossing illegally into the United States of America between October 2022 and September 2023, according to the latest US Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) data. The number of Indians apprehended while crossing the US border unlawfully has reportedly witnessed a five-fold increase in the past years.
In 2019-20, 19,883 Indians were apprehended; in 2020-21, 30,662 Indians were arrested; while in 2021-22 this number was 63,927, according to the data.
Of the 96,917 Indians arrested between October last year and September this year, 30,010 were caught on the Canadian border and 41,770 at the frontier with Mexico. Those arrested are classified under four categories — Accompanied Minors (AM), Individuals in a Family Unit (FMUA), Single Adults, and Unaccompanied Children (UC). Single adults make up the largest category.
In the fiscal year 2023, a total of 84,000 Indian adults crossed into the US illegally. Among the arrested people, there were 730 unaccompanied minors. The US federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.
Senator James Lankford said on the Senate floor yesterday that these people took about four flights, including through countries like France, to reach Mexico, the closest airport, and then literally took a bus rented by crime cartels up to the US border to be dropped off for their last delivery.
“So they can say, ‘I have fear in my country,’” said Lankford. “So far, this year, we’ve had 45,000 people from India that have crossed our southern border, paid the cartels, crossed into our country, and said they have fear in their country from India.”
The US senator reiterated what he has said many times, that the criminal cartels in Mexico were coaching migrants from all over the world on what to say and where to go in order to “game” the US asylum process and get into the country while they awaited an asylum hearing.
“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,” he said in his remarks about America’s broken asylum system and the areas that needed to be addressed in policy.
Lankford said that asylum was the same as refugee status. It is the same under international law. A refugee who is afraid flees to a spot and gets to a refugee centre and says to the United Nations, “I have dramatic fear of persecution in my country”, and if they do, then they are spread out globally.
“We take refugees here from all over the world. Asylum-seekers are on the same standard. They’re supposed to go to the next safe place, get there, and request asylum. That is the international standard, but we don’t do that here,” said the senator.