American Turban

A South Asian undocumented immigrant

"A woman on the deck of a boat headed to Ellis Island in New York." (Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters. Source: New York Times.)

“A woman on the deck of a boat headed to Ellis Island in New York.” (Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters. Source: New York Times.)

On The New York Times blog India Ink, Piyali Bhattacharya pens an article about an undocumented South Asian immigrant from Nepal named Nirmal, who left his family to find work in New York (via AnjumChoudhry Nayyar):

“There is nothing for me back in Nepal,” he said. “There are no job opportunities there. Better to suffer here and let my child live in peace. Maybe because of me, she will have a better life.”

These motivations are not so different from those of my own parents, who came to America following prestigious job opportunities and with the desire to send their children to the best universities. But the similarities end there. Among other privileges, my parents can hop on flights and cross borders at will; a luxury I inherited even more irrevocably by being born in America. Nirmal cannot leave the boundaries of the United States if he ever wants to go to Nepal.

This beautifully written article brought to mind similar stories of many Sikhs in America — documented and undocumented — who have left much behind for a difficult present and an uncertain future. Just today, the tragic suicide of an undocumented Sikh man in San Francisco, California, was reported by India West:

[Paramjit Singh] is said to have crossed the United States border with Mexico in a journey that was described as a struggle. After arriving in the United States, things didn’t get much better for Singh, who found himself battling depression after not being able to find employment, according to NAPA.

Singh is survived by his wife, 10-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son who currently live in the village of Mohablipur near Sultanpur Lodhi District Kapurthala in Punjab.

Read Bhattacharya’s full piece at The New York Times.

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