Washington | Fifty-four Indians were deported back from the US in April and another set of Indians from the country will be sent back to India this month, a top US official said.
India has improved its timeliness in issuing travel documents to its citizens under final orders of removal, Michele Thoren Bond, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on repatriation of convicted criminal aliens. Fifty-four Indian citizens returned home on an ICE charter flight in April 2016, and the Government of India is scheduling a July, 2016 charter as well, Bond said.
ICE stands for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We are encouraged that India is on a positive trajectory, and we intend to remain engaged on this issue with India through newly established quarterly meetings to address difficult cases and ensure processes are smooth and efficient, Bond said.
Last month Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that as many as 23 countries, including India and China, are non-cooperative in not taking back illegal immigrants from the US and asked the Obama Administration to initiate action against them by discontinuing to issue immigrant and non-immigrant visas to them.
Bond said the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are working closely with the Indian government to maintain and build on this progress. We will continue to raise this issue with Indian officials at appropriate levels, including at the upcoming US-India Homeland Security Dialogue, which is scheduled to take place in Washington in late July 2016, he said.
Bond said he would travel to New Delhi in August for the annual consular bilateral dialogue. As in past years, I will raise this issue with the Indians, and press for immediate action on the part of the Indian government to issue travel documents and accept the return of its citizens under final orders of removal, he said. While there has been some progress on removals since the November 2015 US-India Consular Dialogue, during which State and DHS jointly highlighted the urgency of resolving this issue, it has not been enough, he said.
Following this and subsequent discussions, and many other interventions on this issue at different levels with the Government of India and with its diplomatic mission in the US, India has improved its timeliness in issuing travel documents to its citizens under final orders of removal, Bond said.
According to ICE more than 950,000 foreign nationals with final orders of removal remain in the US, National Security Subcommittee Chairman Ron DeSantis said. It is not unreasonable to say that if someone comes into the country illegally and then gets convicted of attempted murder, that it should be a very high priority of the government to get that person out of our country, he said.
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