NEW DELHI: On October 17, Mexico put 311 Indians, who had entered the country to cross over to the US, on a flight back to Delhi. Each of them had paid agents between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 30 lakh to get to the US, just as thousands of others have done in the past. A look at how do illegal migrants get there, what are the routes they follow, and what happens if they are caught...
THE STORY OF MANPREET SINGH
In 2014, Manpreet Singh, a 30-year-old from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, decided to go West illegally. His family borrowed Rs 26 lakh, which he paid to an agent. He was one of the 30 from Punjab being trafficked in to the US. He flew from Dubai to Russia before being taken to Ecuador. There, he had to stay for two months. From Ecuador, the group was flown to Guatemala, where they spent nights in a forest.
Some of the travel to Mexico, the last stop before the crossing in to the US, was done in vehicles, but for the last two hours, the group went on foot to avoid
border patrols. In Mexico, the group split up and Manpreet ended up in the home of a local policeman, which was a safe house for illegal immigrants. The house was locked from the outside so that neighbours and authorities wouldn’t know that there were occupants. He spent a month and a half there.
Then, one morning, they were taken separately to cross the border to Texas . But Manpreet got caught by police. Nine months later, in July 2015, he was deported to India.
THE 4 MOST COMMON ROUTES OF ILLEGAL MIGRATION
1. EASTERN MEDITERRIAN ROUTE
This is the passage long used by migrants crossing through Turkey to the European Union. Since war broke out in Syria in 2011, this route has grown even more crowded.
2. MEDITERRANEAN SEA ROUTE
Almost 90% of those who attempt to reach Europe by sea come from 10 countries — Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia, and Bangladesh.
3. CENTRAL AMERICAN ROUTE
Many have taken the treacherous journey north along smuggling routes, increasingly controlled by drug cartels, towards the US border.
4. SOUTHEAST ASIAN ROUTE
Political upheaval, restrictive migration policies, and a lack of legal frameworks for refugees have made Southeast Asia increasingly dangerous for migrants.
REFUGEE OR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT?
It’s often assumed that there is a clear line between those who are fleeing persecution, identified as “refugees”, and those identified as “illegal immigrants”. But in reality, before being recognised as a refugee, most people have had to cross an international border. They may well have been unable to obtain visas to do this and so may have moved irregularly. Some people have to leave their homes for other reasons, such as the loss of land from rising seas or economic collapse, which means they could not stay put but might not qualify for recognition as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
PEOPLE IN MOST NATIONS FAVOUR DEPORTATION
Majorities in most immigrant destination countries surveyed by Pew Research Centre support the deportation of people who are in their countries illegally.