Hundreds of Indians brave untold danger chasing the American dream

It often ends in a nightmare of heartbreak and financial ruin.

By Revathi Siva Kumar

They form a motley group as diverse as India itself. Among them young and old, men and women speaking a hundred different tongues from across the country. But they all have one dream – to reach American shores — the land of milk and honey — by means fair or foul.

Over the years close to half a million Indians have entered the US without documents making them the fastest growing illegal immigrants in America. Many have thrived, others live in constant fear. And for many more it all ends in a nightmare of misery and financial ruin.

On November 20, a group of 150 of Indians, including three women, who had paid agents millions of rupees to unscrupulous agents, found themselves on a flight back to India trussed up like common criminals.

RELATED: By the numbers: every eighth person of Indian origin in US is an illegal immigrant (November 25, 2014)

Among them 34-year-old Kamaljit Kaur, her husband and son from Jalandhar, in Punjab state. The family had paid an agent 5.3 million rupees to help them enter the US illegally.

Many others in the 25-35 year age group coming from Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat states were caught by border agents while trying to enter US through the Mexican border.

Some working illegally in the US were captured by immigration authorities during raids and still others had overstayed their visas in the US.

An earlier batch of 117 Indians deportees in October included 19-year-old Mandeep Singh, who spent two million rupees in a futile bid to move from his native Patiala in Punjab to Potomac in Washington.

Wandering through forests from Ecuador to Colombia and Panama, the group was caught just a few meters from the Mexican-US border.  They were put in detention camps where they had to get by meager quantities of food and water.

As they trudged through the woods they even came across corpses of those who had failed to make it while being transported through intermediate countries, including Ecuador, Guatemala, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico.

Another group of 311 Indian deportees came a couple of weeks earlier. With the Trump administration cracking down on illegal immigration, many more likely to be sent back home with their dreams shattered.

But it’s a never ending story. Thousands more will continue to court danger in search of a better life only to see their American dream ending in a terrible nightmare of misery, loss of face and financial ruin.


Mexico deports 311 Indians, who were trying to enter US illegally (October 19, 2019)

Indian man guilty of entering US illegally, faces up to 10 years in prison and $ 250,000 fine (April 4, 2017)

‘USA Donkey’: The secret code Indian deportees from Mexico used for their operation (October 19, 2019)

Funeral of 6-year-old Gurupreet Kaur, who died near the US-Mexico border, will be held in New York on Friday (June 28, 2019)

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