10 percent of New Yorkers detained by ICE are Indians; more than 18 percent are South Asians
The threat of deportation has been more real than ever before for thousands of undocumented immigrants in the United States under the Trump administration. While there had been news about impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids going on for about a month now, according to reliable reports, it seems imminent that beginning Sunday, ICE would be beginning its raids in the homes of undocumented immigrants.
As the new threat of ice raids looms large, the operation is said to target about 2,000 family members who already have court orders of removal and are spread across 10 cities in the country, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
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Whether Indian Americans are under threat can easily be quantified from the data released from the office of New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. It reveals that Immigrants from India comprise about 10 percent of immigrants with court proceedings in New York City.
Even though Chinese, with 21 percent, make up the highest in the group, Indians are second, ahead of Bangladeshis, who make up about 8 percent of the cases. A total of 18 percent of South Asians make up this group in New York alone.
An alarming number of Indians and South Asians in the group has alerted civil rights organizations across the country. And many of these organizations are handing out manuals and are also offering guidelines on their websites on what to do in case of an ICE raid.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has been providing “Know Your Rights” handouts, for several scenarios such as ICE worksite raids for employers, ICE home visits and ICE public stops. The handouts are offered in languages such as Punjabi, besides English, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese. There are also manuals in Hindi and Punjabi offered by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Atlanta (AAAJ).
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The Immigration Defense Project has created six shareable infographics on what to do when you know your rights but ice violates them.
The prominent Sikh civil rights organization Sikh Coalition tweeted: “This action could potentially separate thousands of families and add strain to an overwhelmed immigration enforcement system. While we do not represent individuals in immigration cases, we created resources to inform all of their rights (English/Punjabi).”
Immigration lawyers say that often Asian Americans become more vulnerable to authorities as they may not be fluent in English. A large number of Indian immigrants speak only regional Indian languages, or Hindi, making it impossible for them to assert their rights.
Another fact that may limit South Asians and, Indians in particular, is the fear of their peers and neighbors finding out their undocumented status. For the stigma, many do not share their status with their immediate neighbors or colleagues; hence they are often left with no help.
Contrary to popular knowledge within the community, Asian Americans comprise a major part of undocumented population in the country.
In fact, according to the Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPI), the Asian American undocumented population tripled between 2000 to 2015. There are 1.7 million undocumented Asian Americans in the country making up for about 15 percent of the total undocumented population. And Indians and South Asians do make a significant part of this group.