American Turban

The journey of Punjab’s issues to America’s front door

"The U.S. government has moved quietly and aggressively to prevent undocumented Indians from entering the United States, many of whom are Sikhs fleeing political repression or economic collapse at home." (Source: Buzzfeed News)

“The U.S. government has moved quietly and aggressively to prevent undocumented Indians from entering the United States, many of whom are Sikhs fleeing political repression or economic collapse at home.” (Source: Buzzfeed News)

Buzzfeed News recently published one of the most significant articles on undocumented immigration into the United States of Sikhs from Punjab, India:

Much of this influx, according to dozens of interviews with immigrants, experts, and current and former immigration officials, comes from young Indian men at the border, ferried there by transnational smuggling networks. Although border authorities do not track the religious or regional origins of migrants, government officials and other observers say that large numbers of the new arrivals are Sikhs from Punjab, a region in northwestern India beset by economic collapse and environmental degradation, a major drug epidemic, and decades of what human rights groups describe as political violence carried out with impunity.

The article, written by David Noriega and John Templon, follows the journey of one Buta Singh, who escaped alleged police persecution and brutality in Punjab to seek asylum in the United States. His story is important as it ties together issues we often see as disparate: the unrest and human rights violations that occurred from the 1980s and into the 1990s, unchecked brutality of Punjab’s law enforcement against dissent, the trafficking of Sikhs from Punjab, and the emerging economic collapse of Punjab’s agricultural sector with its resulting high suicide rate of farmers.

All of these issues are often labeled or dismissed as Punjabi or Indian internal issues, however these are not disconnected. Further, the legacy of the issues of the unrest in Punjab through the 1980s is not left to the past, but are quite actually presenting themselves today not just in Punjab but to America’s gateways. The solution to the stresses put upon an unprepared American immigration system will not be found by denials of the issues or detention of immigrants but by seeking to address the conspiracy of circumstances that has resulted in this efflux of Sikhs from India to the US.

The well-written, comprehensive, and balanced article is highly recommended and can be found here.

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