New Jersey is experiencing a flood of Indian illegal immigrants (Pssst, don’t tell Ann Coulter, author of anti-immigration screed Adios America).
New Jersey now has the largest Indian illegal population in the U.S., ahead of California, New York, Georgia and Texas.
With the visa status of about 150,000 Indians in New Jersey under a cloud, the state accounts for a third of all Indian illegal immigrants in the U.S..
Within New Jersey, Middlesex, Somerset, Hudson, Mercer and Camden Counties attract the bulk of Indian illegal immigrants.
According to a Pew Research estimate released in November 2014, there are 450,000 Indian illegal immigrants in the U.S. (as of 2012). But the actual numbers of illegal Indians are likely higher given the history of undercounting illegal immigrants in the U.S.
NJ – Immigration Magnet
The large presence of illegal Indians in the state can be explained by four factors – Strong support network of legal Indians, proximity to three international airports (Newark International, JFK and Philadelphia International), lower cost of housing in New Jersey compared to California and lack of employment opportunities in India.
New Jersey has over 300,000 Indian legal immigrants including citizens, Green Card holders and H1B visa holders.
Indian Business Strip on Oak Tree Road, Iselin, NJ
The large support structure of friends and family within the legal immigrant Indian community in New Jersey makes it easy for newcomers to easily find jobs and accommodation and establish themselves.
New Jersey’s proximity to New York and a convenient commuter network has also played a role in drawing Indian illegals to drop anchor in the state.
Unlike Latinos who cross the Souther border by foot into America, the majority of Indian illegal immigrants in New Jersey come on tourist visas and overstay. Some even come here on student visas but never bother to attend school/college.
Thanks to the spurt in Indian illegal immigrants, desi motels, donut and convenience stores employers, restaurants and gas stations in New Jersey have a rich selection of potential employees.
Fortunately for the desi illegals in New Jersey, most Indian employers in the state don’t use the U.S. government’s e-verify system to check legal working status of the immigrants.
In the first wave of Indian illegal immigrants to New Jersey, the majority of arrivals were from the North Indian states of Punjab, Delhi/Haryana and Gujarat.
In the current wave, the majority of Indian illegal immigrants are from South India,
South Indian illegal immigrants are often graduates in arts and engineers unlike illegal desis from North Indians who came here to join family businesses in the state.
With over 2,300 engineering colleges and at least 10,000 arts, science and commerce colleges in South India, failure of Make-in-India initiative to take off and severe competition in the IT/BPO sector, job opportunities for recent graduates in South India are scarce.
There has also been several instances of Indians arriving on H1B visas after paying $80,000-$100,000 to unscrupulous agents in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai only to be ‘benched’ or abandoned upon arrival.
In common parlance, benching refers to the process where the H1B Indian immigrant has to find a job/project himself and then pay a cut of his income to the H1B sponsor or wait for his company to get an outsourcing contract. During benching, the H1B Visa holder gets no salary or at most some money for food and rent (typically 6-8 people share a townhome or apartment).
Often, the benched and abandoned H1B visa holders work illegally in desi motels, liquor stores, restaurants and gas stations.
Time for Amnesty
With clueless American leaders struggling to fix the U.S. economy, one would think they’d welcome youngsters from Asia (India, China, Taiwan and Singapore) with an entrepreneurial mindset
Yet the U.S. seems headed in the opposite direction by clamping down on immigration, restricting H1B Visas and processing Green Card applications at a snail’s pace.
It takes anywhere from five to eight years to get a Green Card because of country limits and bureaucratic logjams.
Given that there are over 30 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. (according to Ann Coulter’s new book), it’s time for the U.S. to consider another round of Amnesty.
The last big Amnesty happened during Republican president Ronald Reagan’s administration three decades back. With a new amnesty, immigrants can emerge out of the shadows and become proud citizens of the United States of America.
But in the current anti-immigrant political climate, illegal immigrants stand a better chance at Amnesty in a Democratic administration than under a Republican administration led by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Donald Trump.