Well, if Big Sis says so … Thousands from India have entered Texas illegally from Mexico in the last year.
Harlingen, Texas — Thousands of immigrants from India have crossed into the United States illegally at the southern tip of Texas in the last year, part of a mysterious and rapidly growing human-smuggling pipeline that is backing up court dockets, filling detention centers and triggering investigations.
The immigrants, mostly young men from poor villages, say they are fleeing religious and political persecution. More than 1,600 Indians have been caught since the influx began here early last year, while an undetermined number, perhaps thousands, are believed to have sneaked through undetected, according to U.S. border authorities.
Hundreds have been released on their own recognizance or after posting bond. They catch buses or go to local Indian-run motels before flying north for the final leg of their months-long journeys.
The Indian migration in some ways mirrors the journeys of previous waves of immigrants from far-flung places, such as China and Brazil, who have illegally crossed the U.S. border here. But the suddenness and still-undetermined cause of the Indian migration baffles many border authorities and judges.
The trend has caught the attention of anti-terrorism officials because of the pipeline’s efficiency in delivering to America’s doorstep large numbers of people from a troubled region. Authorities interview the immigrants, most of whom arrive with no documents, to ensure that people from neighboring Pakistan or Middle Eastern countries are not slipping through.
There is no evidence that terrorists are using the smuggling pipeline, FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials said.
The influx shows signs of accelerating: About 650 Indians were arrested in southern Texas in the last three months of 2010 alone. Indians are now the largest group of immigrants other than Latin Americans being caught at the Southwest border.
The migration is the “most significant” human-smuggling trend being tracked by U.S. authorities, said Kumar Kibble, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. In 2009, the Border Patrol arrested only 99 Indians along the entire Southwest border.