The US has given a list of 271 people claiming they were illegal migrants from India, but the government has not accepted it and would allow their deportation only after proper verification, union minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday.
“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,” the External Affairs Minister said.
Addressing concerns by members during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, she said it would not be correct to say that there has been a change in the US policies after the Trump administration has come to power.
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.
Referring to skilled workers, Swaraj said regarding H1-B and L1 visas for professionals, four bills have come to the US Congress but they have not been passed. She said 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.
Anand Sharma (Cong), while greeting Swaraj on her recovery after having been unwell, said it is important that skilled professionals are not confused with illegal migrants.
Swaraj said she had earlier stated that some Bills have been moved in the US, but the government was taking steps so that they are not passed in such a form. She said the Foreign Secretary had met US Congress members who had been all praise for Indians.
Even in 2012, a figure had come that 11.43 migrants lived there, of whom 2.60 lakh were Indians. “We did not accept the figure because it cannot be considered authentic without thorough verification,” she said.
She said “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.
Responding to questions on social security, she said these issues have been raised in the past and can be taken up again later “as you say right now a sword is hanging on jobs”.
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.