The attorney representing the mother of the 6-year-old migrant Indian girl who died of heat stroke in the Arizona desert alleges the Trump administration says they have created so much fear that asylum seekers fear turning in themselves at ports of entry.
“If you look from a humane point of view, the Trump administration really tightened the border. There is a narrative that only criminals and gang members cross border. So, these families are scared to cross the border (at ports of entry),” Deepak Ahluwalia, an immigration attorney and representing the mother of the deceased Gurupreet Kaur, told indica.
With anger over the tragic situation in his voice, Ahluwalia said, “And this is the result what you see.”
Ahluwalia also alleged the Indian government, too, should be blamed for Indians seeking asylum in the US, saying that not only Sikhs but also people from other states are trying to enter the US, mainly the Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India.
The question arises about why Indian migrants are coming to the United States. This a not a Sikh issue. The majority of those trying to immigrate to the US are not Sikh; they a low caste Hindu. They are Christians asylum seekers and members of the LGBT community as well. Asylum seekers are reporting experiencing trouble in Indian states, Ahluwalia said, adding that the number of people coming to the US has increased recently.
“Ever since the Modi administration has come into power in 2014, the level of hate crime and persecution of minorities have gone up, even if someone likes to believe it or not,” he said. “So, there are many components, but this is the main motive,” Ahluwalia told indica. “I have represented a sizable amount of Christian asylum seekers from Uttar Pradesh and alleged the state’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath, he is a proponent of Ghar Wapsi agenda (of converting non-Hindus to Hinduism) …. “These are some of the stories my clients are saying.”
These issue make families so desperate to migrate, and, of course, many of these families who choose to come here and cross the border illegally are the ones who do not have the ability to obtain US visas and because of their desperation they are still going ahead with this journey to cross the border.
Ahluwalia, who handles hundreds of asylum seekers’ cases, said he could not disclose much about the Gurupreet’s case but did say he has spoken to the girl’s father, who came to the US in 2013.
Gurupreet Kaur – the young girl who died of heat stroke on Wednesday, June 12 – and her mother were among a group of five Indian nationals dropped off on the morning of Tuesday, June 11 by human smugglers in a remote border area near Lukeville and Quitobaquito Springs in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Biosphere Reserve in Arizona, the Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement. It’s a forbidding landscape in a dry and arid area, located 17 miles west of Lukeville, a U.S. border town 50 miles southwest of Tucson.
The CBP described the terrain where the young girl was found as “rugged desert wilderness” and said anyone there would have “little to no resources.” Temperatures were around 108 degrees on the day the girl is believed to have died.
According to Sumati Rao, Consul (CIC & Visa), Consulate General of India, San Francisco, told indica in an email, “The mother of the deceased child and one other woman have been released with a ‘notice to appear.’”
Ahluwalia, who has taken the mother’s case pro bono given the tragic circumstances, said he is not representing other women in the group.
Gurupreet’s mother, arrived in New York on Friday June 21, where her husband lives, however the father is also an asylum seeker and has a pending asylum application before the New York immigration court, where he is represented by immigration attorney Gurpal Singh.
According to CNN, Mr. Singh and Ms. Kaur had not seen each other since 2013, approximately six months after their late daughter Gurupreet was born. The body of Gurupreet Kaur was scheduled to be flown to New York City earlier this week.
The funeral for Gurupreet Kaur will be held in New York City on Friday, June 28th, in the city her family hoped to make their home. Due to the sensitive nature of the situation, the service will be closed to members of the media, and the family will not be conducting any interviews at that time.
When Ahluwalia was asked what role the Sikh Coalition has in this case, he said he represents the mother as a board member and the organization is speaking to media on behalf of the girl’s parents.
Mark Reading-Smith, Sikh Coalition spokesperson, told indica, “We are not representing anybody involved in this case. Their immigration attorneys are representing the parents. We are organizationally making sure that the parents have the appropriate resources and support.”
A Joint statement from Mr. Singh and Ms. Kaur states: “Our family is heartbroken by the loss of our daughter, Gurupreet Kaur. As we grieve, we please ask that you respect our privacy during this deeply painful time. We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States. We trust that every parent, regardless of origin, color or creed, will understand that no mother or father ever puts their child in harm’s way unless they are desperate. We will carry the burden of the loss of our beloved Gurupreet for a lifetime, but we will also continue to hold onto the hope that America remains a compassionate nation grounded in the immigrant ideals that make diversity this nation’s greatest strength.”