US recorded 2 lakh illegal Indian immigrants in last five years: MEA

A rising number of undocumented Indian immigrants are crossing US borders on foot, particularly since the borders reopened after Covid

Representative image (photo: in.usembassy.gov)
Representative image (photo: in.usembassy.gov)
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NH Digital

The ministry of external affairs (MEA) has said US authorities have documented 200,000 (2 lakh) illegal Indian immigrants in the last five years with the highest number of 96,917 reported in 2022-23. The ministry was citing data from American homeland security.

Minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan said the US authorities came across 8,027 illegal Indian immigrants in 2018-19, 1,227 in 2019-20 and 30,662 in 2020-21. The number in 2021-22 was 63,927 while 96,917 cases were reported in 2022-23.

Muraleedharan said the data regarding the number of illegal Indian immigrants encountered by US authorities are based on immigration statistics published on the US Customs and Border Protection website, and the data is as per the US fiscal year (October-September).

"The government accords highest priority to the safety, security and well-being of Indian nationals abroad," he said, adding that recruitment of Indian nationals for overseas employment is regulated under the Emigration Act 1983.

"The ministry is coordinating with state governments and relevant stakeholders to disseminate information on the benefits of safe and legal migration and overseas employment opportunities," said Muraleedharan and added that complaints of illegal migration/human trafficking were referred to the state police for investigation and prosecution.

In November, Pew Research Centre had estimated that Indians form the third largest population of illegal immigrants in the US after Mexico and El Salvador. As of 2021, the country's 10.5 million unauthorised immigrants represented about three per cent of the total US population and 22 per cent of the foreign-born population, the research said.

Mexico, which accounted for 39 per cent of the nation’s unauthorised immigrants in 2021 numbering around 4.1 million, was followed by El Salvador (800,000); India (725,000); and Guatemala (700,000).


According to new data from US Customs and Border Protection, an unprecedented number of undocumented Indian immigrants are crossing the US borders on foot. From October 2022 to September 2023, 96,917 Indians were apprehended, expelled or denied entry for having entered the US without papers.

The report said India, Guatemala and Honduras all saw increases from 2017 with the unauthorised immigrant population in the US reaching 10.5 million in 2021, according to new Pew Research Centre estimates.

Since borders opened after Covid, the number of undocumented Indians in the US went up, with 30,662 encountered in the 2021 fiscal year and 63,927 in the 2022 fiscal year. Of the nearly 97,000 immigrants this year, 30,010 were from the Canadian border and 41,770 from the southern border.

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