6 countries, 12 months, Rs 26 lakh spent: Journey of an illegal migrant
Manpreet, who is from a farming family in Punjab, decided to go abroad just because his relatives were there
Not to be left behind, his family took loans, found an agent, and arranged Rs 26 lakh to fund his trip
But problems arose when agents tried to smuggle him into the US
A man goes to the moon, believing he’s making history. When he lands, he finds that two Punjabis have beaten him to it. “How did you get here,” the flummoxed lunar explorer asks. “Ohji, what do we know, an agent dropped us here,” one of them says.
This is an old joke but it reflects the very real Punjabi desire to find a way — any way, no matter how expensive, circuitous or dangerous — to the west. Manpreet Singh, 30, is aware of what it takes to risk everything to make it to the US and the reports from El Paso — in the news for a tent holding children separated from their parents under US Presi nt Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance migration policy bring back horrific memories of the time he spent in a detention centre there.
Manpreet, who is from a farming family in a village in Hoshiarpur district, decided to go abroad just because his relatives were there, and he wanted to return with money to flash. Not to be left behind, his family took loans, found an agent, and arranged Rs 26 lakh to fund his trip.
In the summer of 2014, Manpreet flew from Dubai to Russia before being taken to Ecuador. “There was some problem in their plan to smuggle us further and they made us stay there for two months. The wait was unbearable,” he says. But the uncertainty of waiting was something he’d have to get used to over the next few months. From Ecuador, the group, which included 30 people from Punjab, was flown to Guatem where they spent nights in a forest.
Some of the travel to Meco was done in vehicles, but for the last two hours, the group went on foot to avoid border patrols and enter Meco, the last stop before the crossing into the US.
In Meco, the group split up and Manpreet ended up in the home of a local policeman, which was a safe house for illegal immigrants. “The house was locked from the outside so that neighbours and authorities wouldn’t know that there were occupants,” he says. People from different countries but with the same dream wound up at the safe house, sometimes for a night, often for longer.
For a month and a half, Manpreet did not see daylight or draw a fresh breath as going outdoors was out of the question. There were no beds, and they slept 10 to a room. Food and other essentials were brought twice a day. A vegetarian, Manpreet was forced to start eating eggs when he could not get vegetables. Through it all, his hope never flagged.
One morning it was time. "We were taken separately to cross the border to Texas," he says. But police pulled him aside. "I had no documents. I was questioned, then body-searched," he says. As he was bundled in to a detention centre, Manpreet could feel the heaviness of a dream lost. Nine months later, in July 2015, he was deported to India.
Manpreet has no plans to try again, but his travails did not deter his elder brother from using the same agent and a similar route a year later. He is now in the US living the American dream.
Name changed to prect identity
Col Avner Mueller-Israel-40 mins ago
Being a dual American / Israeli who now lives in Israel (born in America), I find it so interesting to think that you Indians would be so keen to move out of India. Being a proud Jew and Israeli, I could never think of moving back to the U.S. The pride I feel in being a Jew in Israel is something I can never feel in being a Jew in America. In addition, I wanted to use my skills to make Israel a better place to live. What I see in you Indians is a trend to make other countries better, abandoning India in the process. Don''t get me wrong, I do understand the challenges of living in India, but y''all Indians can overcome the same and work hard to make India like the U.S., can y''all not? Just wondering.
Max Kulkarni-delhi-43 mins ago
They had 52 lakhs and yet desperate to migrate? So it is not of poverty or the sy em but their own personal ego. What a shame
MAGNIFICENT BIHARi-47 mins ago
How fun***information crazy these Punjabis are to go abroad.in their home state These same guys abuse migrants from UP and Bihar calling them all sorts of names .What a height of hypocrisy.
ANC-52 mins ago
Crazyyyyy and his brother still went anyway after knowing the risks , these animals deserve what they get, you can achieve much more in bharat with this level of dedication and seed funds dude , wake up
1 BAR DANCER 1 FOOL-1 hour ago
Who would not want to leave trash and poverty and shift to heaven where there is no dust and no pollution. Try an experiment. Give control of canada to the italian bar dancer and her charsi son (who only skills are to inhale charas and visit prostitutes in bangkok). Then within few years canada will become a living hell and canadians will start moving to bharat illegally.
Kajriwal Satywadi-34 mins ago
Its all beacuse of dalit .. no general catageory guy get job .. reservation and co ption is main reason .
Ekdesi-USA-1 hour ago
We used to crack another joke. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, he saw a tea stall. A Nayar greeted him and offered tea.
Narasarao-Hyd-1 hour ago
With 26 lakhs in his hand, he could have done any good business in India and prospered.
Dean M1-traveller-1 hour ago
why you want to migrate? India provides every opportunity to the deserving. the thing made you migrate is " thought it is better to become to tail of lion than head of s cat!!
Nirvana Nature-41 mins ago
When, i was living in Switzerland and was taking a flight back to India, i seen a Sikh boy wee in departure lounge! He told me, he is being deported back to India, he said the same story of loan and brought by an agent till Switzerland on a false visa ! In plane, i set next to him to console, he said, he is from Jndhar and had no money to take even a bus or train back home from Delhi ! I gave him a thousand Rupees so he can reach home ! This is the daily story of specially youth of Punjab getting in trap of loan and then being deported back to India!
Valen Hick-Location-6 mins ago
You will be surprised that most of the time these migrants are actually quite well off. They sell off their house and businesses and leave their peaceful towns with feelings of insecurity and hopelessness. And so eager to leave it all and join their sister and settled brothers in law. They leave all their loved ones behind and go for obscure lives never to return. Perhaps too embarrassed to return home and face all those they left behind. Unless they were rich Congress po iticians who get to enjoy expensive lifestyle with their co ption money stashed in shell accounts.
Naveen Sharma-New Delhi-21 mins ago
People ready to spent 52L to just adventure...and still our sy em calls them poor farmer...yes...lots of subsidies are still their in Punjab as well...people who have money and can do something here in India are actually desperate to leave country.....then what can you expect from people who are busy in earning two times meals? They can''t change India....i really geel pitty on such mentality !!
Smoking Kills Weed Doesnt-Weed Republic of India-1 hour ago
Heart wrenching... It's not only about India, the whole of Europe is suffering from migrant refugee crisis. South and central America are even worse when it comes to migrant crisis.
Nathan K-1 hour ago
All OECD wealthy countries should send back all refugees, invade and restore order under UN administration, so that people smuggling and refugee seeking asylum dont gives excuses on the pretext of poverty and perse tion. India should send back all the Rohingyas back to Myanmar as they have agreed to back their citizens.
Zubair Ahmed-1 hour ago
Nobody wants to live in India but migration should be legal.
A Singh-1 hour ago
Spend the same money in education and acquired the required skills then go legally to any country. If one doesnâ t have skills then learn to manage your finance. A Bollywood film â Kafilaaâ was produced somewhere in 2007, highlighting exactly the same illegal immigration racket.
The Final Word-1 hour ago -w
Anthony D##Apos##Souza-2 mins ago
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
Save India-4 mins ago
with this much money he could have started a good business and would have got thousand times better life than illegal immigrants... they do all types of work there and do chest thum in villages.... they can't open tea shop in India but can clean toilets abroad...
Logical Thinker-Sweden-5 mins ago
illegal entry should not be encouraged.
Mahesh Swaroopan -chennai-6 mins ago
Indians are hopeless and want to et India and reach any other nation. India''s vebank po itics means Dalits and Mus ms get all benefits while rest have to fight like animals to survive.
In coming days, more Dalots and Mus ms produce 6 kids per person and will take India to 3 billion population by 2050. It will be so dangerous a place, that even airports will look like fish market.
Chourey-Bengaluru-8 mins ago
Now Pappu will say farmers are dying and see this farmer have 52 L which common duty person cannot get in his whole life.
Vinay Singal-Pune,-15 mins ago
try try again
WKR85 Wkr-31 mins ago -Follow
he would have made it to Canada
Sameer Sameer-34 mins ago
WTF. spent 26 lakh.
Gurukripa-49 mins ago
how much of people's money was spent by feku?
Bharat-50 mins ago
This is the reality here, most of the people (youngsters) wants to go abroad and people who can not go on study or legal basis they try other routes of GULF or Illegal migration. There are reassons for it - farming is in bad situation, un-employment and door k dhole suhavane lagte hai.
Mangal Mangal-Chinnai-1 hour ago
I think agent was not . Normally they take them to east Europe. From there during peak hrs they take them on counter fit visa to Pan , from there by boat they cross in USA. They r housed in some Gurdwara they survive on free lungar till they get some job.
Rajju-1 hour ago
Why india is not finding and punish the agents who take large sums of black money from innocent people dreaming for easy road to success ..Find the agent and take legal l action on thsee unscrupulous agents
Tara Chand-New Delhi-1 hour ago
Cheats have no heart.They want money let other rot in jails.These agent must be
Balbhadra Dhagat-Bhopal-1 hour ago
Illegal migration is as much nuisence to the US, as is plastic-waste to India. But unlike Indians, US citizens are alive to the nuisence.
Sarada P Sntaray-Mumbai-1 hour ago
at the same time they spoil India's reputation for ever.