More illegal immigrants from India entering America through Canada border

Uber smuggling ring run by Indian American man from California charged $30,000 to $70,000 to facilitate entry

An increasing number of illegal immigrants from Asia, particularly India, are entering America through US-Canada boundary using an Uber smuggling ring, according to media reports.

The scam came to light with the arrest late last month of Rajinder Pal Singh, a California resident, who smuggled illegal immigrants from India across the northern border and into the Seattle area — by putting them in Ubers, the Washington Times reported.

Federal investigators revealed evidence of more than 90 Uber trips from just one account that they said showed patterns of smuggling connected to Singh. They also traced a total of 17 accounts to his organization, according to court documents cited by the newspaper.

Read: Six Indians arrested trying to smuggle into America from Canada (May 9, 2022)

Singh’s arrest highlights the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants from Asia, particularly India, who hope the path less traveled will give them a chance to sneak past the Border Patrol and attain a foothold in the US, it said.

In April, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers nabbed 1,197 Indians at the northern border. That represents about 13% of all border jumpers along the US-Canada line. Indians made up less than 1% of encounters at the southern border.

It’s not just Indians. Other people from Asia are testing the northern border in large numbers and are willing to pay dearly, authorities say, according to the Times.

David A. Spitzer, the Homeland Security Investigations agent who filed the affidavit backing the arrest of Singh, said those transgressing the northern border are paying $30,000 to $70,000, which covers travel arrangements and often includes bogus documents to help them surmount legal obstacles.

Singh, 48, who also went by the name Jaspal Gill, charged $11,500 for his part of the smuggling journey, according to communications investigators recorded between him and a co-conspirator.

Spitzer said Singh had at least 17 accounts with the ride-hailing company dating back to 2018. He would arrange for Uber drivers to pick up migrants at the border and run them to the area near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he said, where the migrants would switch to other Ubers.

Of the 17 accounts, four were still active when authorities moved in on Singh last month. One of those accounts was used exclusively to get people from the airport to stash houses that Singh operated, according to court documents.

Read: Indian family of four found frozen to death near US-Canada border (January 22, 2022)

Spitzer said at least 90 rides billed to that account showed signs of smuggling because they were booked to times and locations that corresponded with other Ubers coming from the border.

“Based on records provided by Uber, law enforcement’s knowledge of this investigation, and the patterns identified herein, investigators believe that members of the organization are splitting trips to obscure the origin of the trip, i.e., the international border, and to provide a potential lack of knowledge defense relating to the immigration status and/or manner of entry of the noncitizens that the organization is smuggling,” Spitzer said in his affidavit.

The Times said Uber didn’t respond to a request for comment, and neither did CBP.

Spitzer described a complex web of smuggling organizations operating in the Seattle area. “Brokers” arrange the travel and connect the migrants with smugglers, who charge $2,000 to $5,000 to get from British Columbia across the border into the US.

That is where US-based organizers take over. According to communications investigators swept up in their probe, Singh was charging $11,500 for a smuggling trip by January.

That covered expenses such as rental cars or airplane tickets to help the migrants disperse from Seattle to their final destinations throughout the country, prosecutors said.

“There are a lot of expenses,” Singh said in one conversation with a co-conspirator whom agents said they recorded.

Singh’s smuggling escapades dipped during the early part of the pandemic. Canada imposed restrictions on inbound flights, preventing would-be migrants from using the country as a jumping-off point to reach the US.

When agents moved in on Singh, they searched his California home and found counterfeit identity documents and $30,000 in cash.

Read: More Indians trying to enter the US illegally via South America and Canada (May 26, 2022)

Indian nationals seem particularly drawn to the northern border, the Times said. More than 40% of illegal immigrants from Indian nabbed by CBP this fiscal year came from Canada.

The ratio is even higher for other Asian nations. Nearly 80% of apprehensions of Chinese nationals and 99% of Filipinos came from the northern border.

Like the Indians, most were caught at the border crossings. Judging by Singh’s operation, a significant number of others are likely sneaking into the US successfully, the Times said.

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