A 6-year-old from India died after crossing the US-Mexico border. More Indians are making that journey

Saturday, June 15, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Catherine E. Shoichet
CNN.com
Fri June 14, 2019

(CNN)On the day she died, the little girl was thousands of miles away from the country where she was born.

US Border Patrol agents found her remains this week in an area officials describe as “rugged desert wilderness,” 17 miles west of Lukeville, Arizona. In a statement Thursday, US Customs and Border Protection said the deceased child was believed to be a citizen of India, and that she had been traveling in a group reportedly dropped off near the border “by human smugglers who ordered the group to cross in the dangerous and austere location.”

An Arizona medical examiner said Friday that 6-year-old Gurupreet Kaur had died of hyperthermia. Temperatures in the area where agents found her remains Wednesday hovered around 108 degrees.

Her death highlights a rarely discussed reality that’s been playing out at the US-Mexico border in recent years: A growing number of migrants from India have been crossing there.

The number of Indian nationals apprehended at the Southwest border has been steadily climbing, and sharply increased last year, according to Border Patrol statistics. In the 2018 fiscal year, 8,997 people from India were apprehended at the Southwest border — more than triple the number from the year before, when 2,943 Indian migrants were apprehended.

A larger trend

That’s still a small percentage — about 2% of the overall number of migrants apprehended at the Southwest border in fiscal year 2018. The clear majority of migrants apprehended at the border came from Latin American countries, largely from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

But the increase in Indians apprehended is notable. And it’s part of a larger trend.

“There has been a pretty significant increase in general in migrants coming from other continents. It’s not just Indians, says Jessica Bolter, a research assistant at the Migration Policy Institute who tracks migration patterns at the border.

An increase in Indian nationals and other migrants from outside the Western Hemisphere illegally crossing the US-Mexico border has been “an emerging trend for the past few years,” a Department of Homeland Security official told CNN Friday.

The apprehensions of migrants from Bangladesh at the southwest border also increased significantly from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2018, nearly doubling from 564 to 1,198.

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