On Thursday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Rajya Sabha that the US has given India a list of 271 people claiming they were illegal migrants, but the government has not accepted the list. India would allow their deportation only after proper verification, the minister said.
“We have not accepted this list and have sought more details. We have said that it is only after we verify the details, can we issue an emergency certificate for their deportation,” Swaraj said.
Swaraj made the statement after several members expressed concern over the effects of the steps being taken by the Donald Trump administration on Indian citizens including skilled professionals living there.
Swaraj said that the US policies towards India still haven’t changed much after Trump came to power. Referring to skilled workers, Swaraj said regarding H1B and L1 visas for professionals, four bills have been introduced in the US Congress but they have not been passed.
She assured the House that the government was engaging with the US at the highest level to ensure that the interests of Indian people or the IT industry are not affected.
“We are conveying to them that IT professionals are not stealing jobs but contributing to the US economy and making it stronger,” the Minister said.
Swaraj also said that there were no verified documents on the number of Indians living in the US illegally.
“There are no authentic figures on the number of undocumented Indian immigrants in the US,” adding that the government provided travel documents only after the concerned person was conclusively identified as Indian.
“In case we don’t provide travel documents, they would be jailed,” Swaraj said, adding that from 2014 till date, 576 people have been provided travel documents.
On H1B visas, she said there have been “flip-flops” in the past and the number of these visas rose from 65,000 to 1.95 lakh and then again went down to 65,000. “It is not that all these changes have happened only after the Trump administration has taken over,” she said.
(With inputs from PTI)