The Donald Trump administration has received widespread criticism for its "zero tolerance" immigration policy, with hundreds of families being separated at the border. While it was earlier said that there were several Indians at detention facilities in the country, a heartbreaking incident has now come to fore.
It is being said that an Indian woman, who had illegally crossed over to the US from Mexico, has been detained and her five-year-old differently-abled son has been taken away. This is the first known case of an Indian who has been separated for her child and she has reportedly been pulling all stops to be reunited with him.
Bhavan Patel's case was taken up for hearing and she is said to have appeared frail and worried in the courtroom and constantly wrung her hands. She is seeking asylum in the US after fleeing political persecution in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, her attorney said during the hearing, according to the Washington Post. She is said to have travelled to Greece and then Mexico after which she was trying to cross over to the US.
At the hearing, the prosecutor from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that letting Patel cross over to the US was risky, after which the judge asked her how she had travelled from India to the US. Her attorney then explained that there was "credible fear" that she could be hurt or killed if she was deported to India and added that Patel's brother had arranged her travel and there was no smuggler involved.
The 33-year-old has now been granted a $30,000 bond by an Arizona court, but it is not known if she has been reunited with her son. Meanwhile, the five-year-old is said to be in one of the children's facilities and Patel's attorney Alinka Robinson explained: "Her son is not doing well."
What is an immigration bond?
People who are not US citizens and do not have a legal residence in the country may be detained by the ICE. Once the detainee is eligible for release, the court sets a bond amount, which is called the immigration bond.
The amount depends on several factors, one of the most important being the risk element.
The immigration bond for the detainee can be paid by anyone who has a legal status in the US, including third party bondsmen. Once the amount is accepted, the detainee is released and given a date, when they are required to appear in the court for a hearing.
Indians in detention
Even though there are no official figures on how many Indian immigrants have been detained in the US, many reports have indicated that the number could be over 200 – mostly from Punjab and Gujarat. Most of them are said to be in four federal prisons in Washington, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
The Indian Embassy in Washington DC and its Consulates in Houston, New York and San Francisco have reportedly sent senior to these facilities and they are likely to ascertain the number of people at these centres and provide them legal access.
A few days ago it was reported that about 52 Indians are at a federal prison in the state of Oregon. Speaking about the detention and their plight, the men told the Oregonian that they had been separated from their families weeks ago and had not been able to meet anyone since. The only contact they have had with the outside world were their Hindi and Punjabi translators, the access to which was also limited.
The detainees also said that they were being housed in extremely tough conditions and one cell was shared among three people.
They also said that they were locked for about 22-23 hours a day and haven't even been able to get legal aid. The immigrants spoke of isolation and told the lawmakers that they have no clue where their wives and children were and also worried that they may never see them again.