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Tuesday 21, January 2020
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Illegal immigration

Try, try and try again until you succeed — that’s the moral of King Bruce and the Spider.

Try, try and try again until you succeed — that’s the moral of King Bruce and the Spider. Illegal immigrants are notorious for taking this lesson to appalling extremes. They will stop at nothing to reach their dream destination, though there is no guarantee of success even after umpteen attempts. Over 3,000 people of Indian origin are lodged in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centres; most of them are accused of violating immigration laws. Federal law enforcement agencies have arrested 90 foreign students, mostly from India, who enrolled in a fake university established by the US government to check immigration fraud. Last week, the US deported 150 Indians for violating visa norms or illegally entering America. In October, more than 300 of them were expelled by Mexico for unlawfully entering that country to sneak into the US.

A considerable number of these deportees are from Punjab, including Bathinda’s Jabarjung Singh. Sent back for the fourth time, he is still desperate to try his luck yet again. He claims to have paid a total of Rs 24 lakh to a travel agent and spent six months in seven US camps. The fact that the unscrupulous operator repeatedly managed to send Jabarjung overseas highlights the abject failure of the Central and state governments in curbing these malpractices. Incidents like the 1996 Malta boat tragedy and the 2016 Panama mishap have triggered only a perfunctory crackdown by the Punjab authorities. The status quo has been inevitably restored in due course, thanks to the nexus between travel agents and government officials. Rather than confronting the problem, politicians have been busy scoring brownie points by ‘rescuing’ Indians who go abroad through unauthorised channels and get stranded there. The menace of runaway NRI husbands also continues unabated.

With the US and other countries tightening the noose around illegal immigrants, India — and Punjab in particular — should ensure that the shady agents are brought to book. A nationwide campaign is needed to dissuade people from putting their life savings — and life — on the line in pursuit of dollar dreams.

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