Hundreds of undocumented immigrants from India are taking an unusual route to the United States, illegally crossing from Mexico into Arizona to seek political asylum
Those numbers are likely to rise in 2014, the head of a D.C.-based Asian immigrant rights group told Newsmax on Tuesday.
Deepa Iyer, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, said "it's not clear" why immigrants from India are using the same route as Central Americans.
One reason may be that many South American countries don't require visas, Eleanor Sohnen, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C.-based think tank, told the Arizona Daily Star
. Many can pay up to $35,000 to be smuggled into the country.
Some Indians simply surrender at Nogales, Az., while others are caught by Border Partrol and detained.
Iyer said the U.S. immigration system is broken and desperate immigrants don't want to wait
five to 10 years to join loved ones in the United States, while others have fled India, a country of 1.2 billion people, claiming political persecution.
U.S. asylum officers must determine whether their claims are credible. Some are set free but must show up at an immigration hearing at a later date, while others remain in detention, the Arizona Republic reports.
Some immigrant advocates are concerned that Indians are being robbed and physically harmed by smugglers during their multi-country journey to the United States, or are preyed on by unscrupulous employers once they get here.
Some border-security advocates think human smuggling gangs being used by Indians to get to the U.S. could also become pipelines for terrorists.
"They will smuggle anyone who pays them," Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank, told the Republic.
About 3.4 million South Asians from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives live in the United States, according to South Asian Americans Leading Together
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