In a recent incident that has sparked renewed concerns about illegal immigration from India, a flight carrying 303 Indian passengers bound for Nicaragua was grounded at a French airport in late December. According to data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), at least one Indian was deported daily in 2023 for either lacking proper documentation or unlawfully residing in the country.
ICE, established in 2003 by merging the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, revealed that 370 Indians were deported in the past year. From 2018 to 2023, a total of 5,477 Indians were sent back to India for illegal entry and stay.
The data further indicated that the highest number of deportations, 2,312, occurred in 2020, coinciding with then U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to India in February. A total of 1,616 Indians were deported in 2019, marking the peak of deportations during Trump’s tenure.
A U.S.-based businessman of Gujarat origin, who assists immigrants in settling in the U.S., noted that efforts against illegal immigration intensified during the Trump era. He revealed, on condition of anonymity, that the majority of those deported belonged to the Gujarati and Punjabi communities and had entered the U.S. without legal documentation.
Trump, currently leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, has pledged to strengthen measures against illegal immigration and restrict legal immigration if re-elected. However, the deportation figures are significantly lower than the number of Indians apprehended for illegal entry into the U.S. U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows that a record 96,917 Indians were caught unlawfully crossing into the U.S. during the fiscal year 2023, spanning October 2022 to September 2023.