"the path here turned out to be just as dangerous"
Federal statistics have revealed that a record number of Indian immigrants are entering the United States via its southern border.
In 2022 alone, 42,000 people were intercepted.
The number is more than double the amount from the same period the year prior when crossings by Indian immigrants were already at a record high.
An additional 1,600 have crossed from the northern border – four times the amount of the past three years combined.
Nearly all of them turn themselves in to Border Patrol, who then process them as asylum-seekers due to recent unrest surrounding India’s Bharatiya Janata Party.
Since 2007, the total number of annual illegal border crossings from India only exceeded 5,000 four times.
Various other factors have spurred the sizable jump in illegal immigrants.
US Customs and Border Protection’s total encounters along the border in 2023 were more than two million, meaning migrants from India represented just under two per cent of that sample set.
The total includes approximately 210,000 apprehensions in October 2023 – the highest recorded this year.
The record monthly figure brought the total number of migrant encounters for the fiscal year to 2.48 million, up from 2.38 million in 2022.
At the time, 2.38 million had been a world record but has since been bested as asylum-seekers like Arshdeep Singh continue to enter the US.
Mr Singh, from Punjab, spent 40 days migrating to the United States.
Rather than being arrested while evading capture, he turned himself in to ask for asylum – a request he was granted before arriving in Fresno, California.
He recalled being threatened by men he believed were affiliated with the BJP before his father made arrangements for him to leave.
But Mr Singh said “the path here turned out to be just as dangerous as it had been for me to stay in Punjab”.
He first flew from New Delhi to Hungary, where he was kept in a small room for 10 days and fed only bread and water.
Mr Singh then travelled to France before going to Mexico City, where he was kept in a room for another week.
He took another flight followed by a bus ride, eventually reaching the US border.
He proceeded to cross into California, where he was then taken to a processing centre where he saw several others who had undergone a similar journey from India.
At that point, he and several others were allowed in virtually without question – thanks to nationalist policies put in place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that experts say are to blame for the recent hike in numbers.
That and other success stories have fuelled the charge, with videos of men and women taking different journeys to make it to the US.
As border crossings continue to rise, administration officials have blamed migration from places like India and others set outside the Western Hemisphere on the US’s failure to logistically address the parade of illegal entries at the southern border.
Worsening matters is the United States’ lack of relationships with those countries – making a cap on immigration very difficult to enforce, and also very costly.
Meanwhile, the surge in migrants underscores the scale of the humanitarian crisis at the border, and the political challenge it presents for President Joe Biden as he seeks re-election in 2024.