As the debate on immigration continues, there is one particular aspect being overlooked— Indian asylum-seekers. According to figures from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 534 Indians claimed asylum at the US border in 2013. In 2014, it more than doubled to 1,332. A year later, that number spiked to 2,578. By 2018, the number of Indians claiming asylum has increased to well over 4,000 people. So how, in half a decade, did a figure multiply eight times from the the largest democratic nation in the world?
There are couple possible explanations as to why this is occuring. The first would be the stories that these asylum-seekers are telling. The vast majority of people coming in from India are from minority religions, in particular Sikh— as North American Punjabi Association executive director Satnam Singh Chahal claims. These people have claimed that they are being religiously persecuted and are fleeing in fear of their lives. This story checks out on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper into the numbers, they don’t quite add up.
Approximately 92 percent of Sikhs living in India reside in the state of Punjab as noted by calculations drawn from the 2001 Indian Census. Persecuted in areas that they dominate? Unlikely. Yet still, if you and your family are being persecuted, would you not flee the region with your loved ones? Seems logical, but according to the CBP and USCIS only 509 out of 14,536 refugees since 2013 have been women. That makes up only a mere 3.5 percent.
The overwhelming majority are all working aged men with families back home in supposed fear of persecution. A bit peculiar if you ask me, but even under the assumption that for some reason only young men were being religiously persecuted, it still isn’t quite right.
A persecuted group of people also probably wouldn’t have many notable people and celebrities, but this isn’t the case here. For example, the Prime Minister of India from 2004-2014, Manmohan Singh, was a Sikh. Slews of movie superstars, professional athletes, and highly decorated military officers have been and are Sikhs. If they had been “openly persecuted” as many claim in their asylum hearings, how did many make it to the top? Would there be no attention drawn to it?
The real answer lies in politics. After Manmohan Singh and the left wing Congress party made an exit in 2014, a conservative party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took over.
Modi was the Chief Minister of his home state of Gujarat from 2001 until he assumed the role as PM in 2014. Modi was considered a successful Chief Minister by most, but one incident blemished his governance. In 2002 the Gujarat Riots broke out, leaving hundreds dead in a Hindu-Muslim clash. Many accused Modi of starting and allowing the violence in which many of the dead were members of the minority Muslim community. These accusations were debunked when the Special Investigative Team appointed by the Supreme Court found no evidence to prosecute Modi. This incident has since been used by the liberal Indian media to portray Modi as a racist, who is intolerant to any religion but his own Hinduism, which smugglers have used to their advantage.
In 2014, 44 young men from Punjab were arrested at an El Paso detention center after illegally entering the country. Satnam Singh Chahal, the Executive Director of the North American Punjabi Association, was able to interview them. Chahal learned that all of them had come using human traffickers who had sent these men to Moscow from India. Once in Moscow, they went to South America and were then sent to cross into the United States through Mexico. They had paid these traffickers and their middlemen exorbitant amounts, many even taking out loans to do so, because they were promised better life in America. All of them had the same pre-rehearsed story on persecution.
Many of these people seeking to enter the country aren’t necessarily evil, and often they are uneducated individuals who have been promised better life without truly understanding the criminal nature of what is going on. However, It is our job to protect our country and our borders by being able to spot when people are simply taking advantage of our failing immigration system and to plug this loophole.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.