ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

by | Nov 5, 2023

Unveiling the Complex Issue of Illegal Immigration in India and the Ongoing Immigration Challenges in the United States

Migration is a global phenomenon that profoundly influences societies worldwide. Yet, unregulated and illegal immigration presents substantial challenges and consequences, affecting not only India but also the United States. In this article, we will delve into the intricate issue of illegal immigration in India, highlighting its nationwide impact. We will also shed light on the ongoing immigration challenges faced by the United States, with a specific focus on the recent surge of illegal Indian migrants.

Illegal Immigration in India: A Multifaceted Challenge

Illegal immigration is a multifaceted challenge that transcends geographical boundaries, impacting the entire nation of India. While certain regions, like North-East India, may experience more acute issues, it is vital to acknowledge that the repercussions of illegal immigration extend across the country.

Social Consequences of Illegal Migration

  • Crisis of Identity: The influx of immigrants can create a crisis of identity among indigenous populations. Cultural survival, political control, and employment opportunities may be threatened by illegal migration.
  • Environmental Degradation: Large areas of forest land are encroached upon by immigrants for settlement and cultivation, leading to environmental degradation. This issue is not limited to a specific region; it has nationwide implications.
  • Difficulty in Identification: The linguistic and cultural similarities between illegal migrants and indigenous populations make it challenging to identify and deport illegal immigrants, a problem that transcends geographical boundaries.

Economic Consequences of Illegal Migration

  • Increased Financial Burden: Illegal immigration places additional financial burdens on state governments as they must allocate resources for education and healthcare facilities to accommodate the new arrivals. This is a concern for the entire country.
  • Displacement of Native Workers: During economic downturns, there is a fear that immigrants may take jobs that would otherwise be filled by local residents, leading to competition and potential conflict, a concern that affects various states.
  • Decreased Wage Levels: The constant influx of illegal immigrants contributes to population growth, which can lead to lower wage levels for both locals and migrants, impacting the entire country.

Political Consequences of Illegal Migration

  • Illegal Voters: Across India, many illegal immigrants have managed to get their names enlisted in voting lists illegally, becoming significant vote banks for political parties.
  • Terrorism: Allegations of militants among illegal migrants raise concerns about their involvement in terrorist activities, which can have nationwide security implications.
  • Movement Against Outsiders: The large-scale migration has given rise to movements against “outsiders,” leading to political and sometimes violent conflicts. These movements are not confined to specific states but occur in various regions.

Legal Framework in India: Navigating the Challenge

India has established a legal framework to address the complexities of illegal immigration, which includes several key laws and regulations:

  • Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920: This act mandates that anyone entering India must possess a passport and gives the government the authority to expel those who enter without proper documentation.
  • Foreigners Act, 1946: The Foreigners Act provides broad authority to deal with all foreigners and allows the government to employ various means, including force, to prevent illegal immigration. It places the “burden of proof” on individuals, a principle upheld by the Supreme Court.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955: This act outlines the procedures for obtaining and determining Indian citizenship, which plays a pivotal role in addressing the issue of illegal immigration.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill in India: A Subject of Debate

The Citizenship Amendment Bill in India has generated significant debate and controversy. This bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955, which regulates who may acquire Indian citizenship and under what conditions. The bill provides exemptions for certain religious groups from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Key Features of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in India:

  • Birthright Citizenship: Yes, individuals born in India are eligible for citizenship.
  • Naturalization Process: Complex, involving various qualifications and residency requirements.
  • Descent-Based Citizenship: Limited, allowing for citizenship by descent in certain cases.
  • Dual Citizenship: Yes, India allows for dual citizenship.
  • Citizenship by Investment: Limited, with specific criteria.
  • Citizenship Tests: Yes, tests are conducted to assess eligibility.
  • Renunciation of Citizenship: Allowed, individuals can renounce Indian citizenship.
  • Fast-Track Citizenship: Limited, certain groups may have accelerated citizenship processes.
  • Refugee and Asylum Pathways: Yes, India has provisions for refugees and asylum seekers.

However, the bill has raised concerns about differentiation based on religion and country of origin, potentially violating the right to equality under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. It also grants wide discretion to the government to cancel OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) registration, which has raised concerns about government discretion and delegation of powers.

Comparison of Citizenship Acts in Different Countries

Feature United States Canada United Kingdom India Australia
Birthright Citizenship Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Naturalization Process Complex Complex Complex Complex Complex
Descent-Based Citizenship Limited Limited Yes Yes Yes
Dual Citizenship Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Citizenship by Investment Limited Limited No No Limited
Citizenship Tests Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Renunciation of Citizenship Allowed Allowed Allowed Allowed Allowed
Fast-Track Citizenship Limited Limited Yes Limited Yes
Refugee and Asylum Pathways Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

International Frameworks for Managing Illegal Migration

Addressing the multifaceted challenge of illegal migration requires not only national legislation but also international cooperation. Several international frameworks exist to facilitate cooperation among countries and address the issue of illegal migration:

  • UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM): The GCM is a comprehensive international agreement aimed at promoting safe and orderly migration while also addressing issues related to irregular migration.
  • UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention): This treaty, along with its Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air, addresses the criminal aspects of irregular migration, such as migrant smuggling, and aims to prevent and combat transnational organised crime.
  • UN Refugee Convention and Protocol: While primarily focused on refugees, these international instruments set the legal framework for the protection of individuals who are forced to flee their home countries due to persecution. They distinguish between refugees and other migrants.
  • International Organization for Migration (IOM): As an intergovernmental organisation, the IOM works on various migration issues, including those related to irregular migration. It provides services and advice to governments and migrants, promotes humane and orderly migration, and assists in addressing the challenges associated with irregular migration.
  • Regional Agreements: Various regions, such as the European Union (EU), have developed regional agreements and mechanisms to address irregular migration. These agreements involve cooperation with countries of origin and transit and aim to manage migration flows more effectively.
  • Bilateral Agreements: Countries often negotiate bilateral agreements to manage their migration relations, especially in cases of neighbouring countries.
  • Human Rights Frameworks: International human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protect the rights of all individuals, including migrants, regardless of their legal status. These frameworks provide a foundation for safeguarding the rights of migrants.
  • Labor Migration Agreements: Some countries create agreements to facilitate legal labor migration. These agreements provide structured pathways for employment and indirectly affect irregular migration by providing legal channels for workers.

Challenges and Solutions

Challenges related to illegal immigration in India encompass national security threats, conflicts of interest, political instability, the rise of militancy, human trafficking, and law and order issues. To address these issues, several measures are required:

  • Diplomatic Efforts: India should engage in diplomatic efforts with neighboring countries, such as Bangladesh, to address illegal migration issues and promote collaboration. Dialogue and cooperation are essential to manage cross-border movements effectively.
  • Better Border Management: Improved border management is critical in controlling illegal immigration. Measures such as border fencing, road construction, and proactive patrolling can enhance border security and deter illegal entry.
  • Data Collection: Utilizing digital databases, such as the Unique Identification Number (UID) scheme, can aid in monitoring and managing illegal immigration. Accurate and comprehensive data are essential for informed policymaking.
  • Resolution of Conflicts: Addressing outstanding border issues with neighboring countries is essential to prevent them from becoming national security threats. Resolving conflicts can lead to better cooperation on migration-related matters.
  • Utilizing Regional Forums: Regional organizations, such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), can be used to discuss illegal migration and foster cooperation and support from member states. Multilateral platforms are valuable for addressing regional challenges.

Ongoing Immigration Challenges in the United States

The United States is also confronted with immigration challenges, including a recent surge of illegal Indian immigrants. Several noteworthy developments underscore these challenges:

Image Source- TOI

  • Illegal Immigration from India: According to a report by The Times of India, 96,917 Indian nationals were apprehended while attempting to enter the US illegally between October 2022 and September 2023, marking a significant increase compared to previous years. This surge has implications for immigration enforcement and border security in the US.
  • Increasing Risks: Illegal immigration attempts, particularly via dangerous routes, have resulted in tragic deaths. The case of Brijkumar Yadav, who tragically lost his life while attempting to cross into the US by scaling the border wall, serves as a poignant example of the risks involved. These incidents highlight the human cost of illegal immigration.
  • End of Title 42: The illegal flow of immigrants is believed to have increased after the end of Title 42 in May. Title 42, implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic, allowed US authorities to deport illegal immigrants without asylum hearings. Its expiration has significant implications for immigration enforcement and the processing of asylum claims.
  • Challenges in Enforcement: Despite efforts by law enforcement agencies, the flow of illegal immigration continues, exposing families to life-threatening risks. Addressing the root causes of migration and enhancing border security are ongoing challenges for the United States.

Conclusion: A Global Challenge Requiring Collaborative Solutions

Illegal immigration is a multifaceted global issue with far-reaching consequences. It transcends regional boundaries and impacts nations on various levels, from social and economic to political and security-related aspects. As India and the United States grapple with the complexities of illegal immigration, a comprehensive and coordinated response is necessary to address this global challenge effectively.

The multifaceted issue of illegal immigration requires careful consideration of legal measures, diplomatic efforts, enhanced border management, and conflict resolution. Striking a balance between humanitarian concerns and national security is essential. Addressing the challenge of illegal immigration is a collective endeavor that necessitates collaboration and shared responsibility among affected countries. Only through such cooperation can nations work together to manage the intricate issue of illegal immigration and its far-reaching consequences.

Source- TOI

Also Read: Global Hunger Index

 

Written By Vishakha Khatri

My name is Vishakha Khatri. I am an engineering graduate and a civil service aspirant with a passion for spreading knowledge about Indian polity. I believe that understanding our political system is crucial for every citizen, and I am committed to making this information accessible to everyone in my own easy way. Through my experiences in civil service preparation and my unique perspective as an engineering graduate, I hope to inspire and educate others on the importance of Indian polity.

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