US authorities have communicated the details of 161 Indian detainees to New Delhi for deportation amid the Covid-19 outbreak; deportees will be put at the disposal of the respective state governments after their arrival

Nearly 160 illegal Indian immigrants, including 132 from Haryana and Punjab, will be deported from the United States in the coming few days. The US authorities have communicated the details of 161 Indian detainees to New Delhi for deportation following the initiation of air evacuation operations for stranded Indian nationals due to the Covid-19 situation. These details were shared by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) with the states following a recent meeting between foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and the top brass of Haryana and Punjab governments, top officials said.

Officials who did not wish to get quoted said that there are 76 illegal migrants from Haryana and 56 from Punjab who are in the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at detention centres in Texas, Arizona, California, New York and Washington, and being readied for deportation. The ICE air operations, the air transportation arm of the US agency, facilitates the removal of aliens to destinations worldwide using air charter services.

A ministry of external affairs (MEA) official authorised to answer media queries said the illegal migrants will be flown in by the US authorities. “Though the transportation of deportees is not part of the evacuation operation to bring stranded Indians back from abroad, the MEA is making all necessary arrangements, including documentation, for the arrival of deportees. The deportees will be put at the disposal of the respective state governments after their arrival and will have to undergo 14-day mandatory quarantine,” MEA’s press relation officer said.

The hastened deportation process is clearly the outcome of an April 10 executive order of US president, Donald Trump imposing visa sanctions on countries that deny or unreasonably delay the acceptance of aliens who are their citizens, subjects, nationals, or residents after being asked to accept those aliens from the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic. Such an action, the executive order said, created unacceptable public health risks for Americans. “The United States must be able to effectuate the repatriation of foreign nationals who violate the laws of the United States,” said the presidential order which will cease to apply on December 31, unless extended. The presidential order would apply to illegal migrants also, officials said.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had earlier in March evaluated its detained population for high-risk cases to determine whether their continued detention was appropriate. Of this medical risk population, ICE released over 900 individuals after evaluating their immigration history, criminal record, potential threat to public safety, flight risk, and national security concerns. ICE’s detained population has also steadily dropped by more than 7,000 individuals since March 1, 2020 as a result of the decrease in book-ins compared to this time last year, combined with continued repatriations of illegal aliens, as per a statement issued by ICE.

INDIA DETAINEES CROSSED OVER FROM SOUTHERN BORDER

Statistics show that 92 Indian migrants were detained by US Customs and Border Protection personnel in Texas after making illegal crossovers from the southern border abutting Mexico. There were 21 detentions in New York, 22 in Atlanta and 22 in San Francisco. Oregon-based immigrant rights activist, Navneet Kaur who often works as an interpreter for the Indian detainees said that most of the asylum pleas of Indian detainees have been rejected in the past one year. “I have heard about only one positive outcome,” Kaur said.