Trump’s zero-tolerance policy hits Indian migrants fleeing religious persecution


  • A report by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon states that 123 South Asian immigrants are being detained at Oregon’s Sheridan federal prison in the United States (US).
  • Reports indicate that these migrants fled to the US seeking asylum against religious persecution.
  • Prisoner accounts reveal that the immigrants are kept locked up for 23 hours at a time and impeded from meeting their lawyers.
Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy has created a wave of unrest along US borders, but what’s not been talked about yet is how it has impacted Indian immigrants as well. According to a statement made by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), apparently, 123 immigrants who came to the US seeking asylum were detained and put into jail instead.

These immigrants are primarily South Asian who speak Hindi and Punjabi but reports indicate that a few maybe Chinese speakers as well. According to Valarie Kaur, a Sikh community activist, at least 52 of the detainees are Indian, 13 are from Nepal and 2 are from Bangladesh.

Indians were the third largest group of the US immigrants after Mexicans and the Chinese in 2015.

As per The Oregonian, members of the congressional delegation went to tour the detention center and received accounts of how the migrants were locked up for 23 hours at a stretch and kept from reaching their lawyers.

Most of them are victims of religious persecution on account of being Sikh or Christian and these migrants don’t even know where their wives and children are currently being kept.

Trend reversal

Between the beginning of the current millennium and 2015, the Asian population in the US grew by 72%. In fact, the inflow of Asians had grown to such an extent that it was speculated they would overtake the Hispanic population by 2055 to become the largest immigrant group in the US.

The Indian population, specifically, has doubled in the same span of time from nearly 3 million to 4 million. Even among the Asian group, Indians form the second largest faction after the Chinese.

The numbers reflect that it’s possible for the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy to potentially have a cascading effect. Even the H-1B visas, half of which used to be awarded to Indians, have become more difficult to attain. Not to mention that Trump’s administration already has plans in the pipeline to rescind the H4 rule that lets the dependants of H-1B visa holders gain employment.

(Representative image)
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