2016 saw the victory of Donald Trump as the United States President. Hence that, the world also saw the slow demise of immigration to the United States. This, due to the strong stand taken by the Trump administration on curbing immigration from countries of a certain religion and an ongoing effort to eliminate illegal overstays. So where does India rank within this tumultuous landscape?
The answer lies in a natural progression of events. Indian arrivals to the United States has seen an aggressive growth in the recent past. The US has seen Indian visitors both in the form of leisure travelers as well those coming in for work. Currently ranked at the 11th position in terms of global arrivals and number 6th in spending, these numbers have grown from 615,000 in 2010 to 1.17 million in 2016. The tourists stay for around two weeks and have spent approximately $13.6 billion in Yr. 2016 alone. The US Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) forecasts a 72% increase in arrivals by 2021. The ten-year multiple entry visa has facilitated this trend.
A more prominent concentration of Indians is around places that offer job opportunities especially those in the technology sector. Yr. 2017 saw the highest number of H-1B and L-1, work related visas granted to Indian tech companies. California’s Silicon Valley is host to big technology driven employers like Google, Facebook and Apple. There were nearly 319,000 Indian visitors in year 2016 and is foreseeing a 45.8% growth by 2021.
This has a downside as well. The US has seen a 202% increase in illegal immigration since 1990 and the Asian numbers have more than tripled. So, while more Indian immigrants are moving in, there is a corresponding increase among those who overstay their visa and end up residing here illegally. Pew research estimates a surge of 43% of unauthorized Indian immigrants in the U.S. to a total of around 500,000. Many are students, divorcees and spouses of H1B visa holders who continue to live here after the death of the principal visa holder. As a result, India is fast becoming a growing source of undocumented or illegally residing immigrants in the United States pushing Mexico out of the run.
While Asians as a whole represent 14% of the unauthorized population, Indians are more than 284,000 of that share as of today’s numbers. As the US government’s immigration rhetoric gains traction with norms around work-related visas are tightened and a more severe crackdown on unaccompanied minors entering the country takes place, these undocumented and/or illegal Indians are at risk for deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as ‘DACA’ was recently dissolved taking down almost 7,000 undocumented Indian children with it. Deportations are high, tourist visa denials are more common and work related visas are made harder to come by. It is only a matter of time that will reveal the results of such filtration – do Indians stay or go?
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