(Dunki) Dingucha, located 13 km from Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, is a village with a population of about 3000 people, but more than half of the houses are vacant and locked. About 1,800 villagers have left not only their village but also the country. “They couldn’t find jobs; they would have been better off abroad.” “If we don’t go to America, our children’s life will become difficult here.” You can see such posters all over Dingucha. ‘Study in UK, Canada’ ‘Free Application’ ‘Offer letter in 3 days’ The thing that is most advertised in this village is a visa to America or Canada. Many advertisements guarantee that you will get a visa without any examination. In January 2022, after seeing their fellow villagers moving to America, a family from Dingucha decided to follow them. Jagdish Patel, 39, his wife and their two children boarded a flight to Canada. Jagdish was a former teacher in the village, but more recently, he used to help his brother in his textile business. But he could only earn a meager monthly income of ₹9,000 – ₹10,000. It is clear that he had to take this decision due to poverty and unemployment. The Patel family managed to raise ₹6.5 million using the ‘donkey process’ to hire the services of an agent to take them to the US. His wife Vaishali Ben’s dream was to work in a beauty salon in America. And Jagdish wanted to give better education to his children. With these hopes, they left their village; on January 12, the Patels flew to Toronto; in the ‘donkey process’ agents dropped them off near the US–Canada border, where they were expected to walk the remaining distance, Crossing the US border illegally. Tragically, within a week of arriving in Toronto, the family’s lifeless bodies were found by police just 12 meters from the border. The harsh reality of cold weather proved fatal for the family of four. Perhaps they were unaware that they would need to cross the border with temperatures dropping to -35 degrees Celsius, a sad end to their story. But Jagdish’s family was not the only one who met such an end. Every year, thousands of Indians try to migrate illegally to countries like the US and UK. Unfortunately, using this ‘donkey process’, many people lose their lives trying it. This is why the US-Mexico border is the most dangerous border in the world. Throwing light on this issue, Rajkumar Hirani and Shahrukh Khan’s new film Dunky has come. So let’s use this opportunity to understand this process better. So, let’s learn the intricacies of this ‘donkey procedure’ in this video.
What is the truth behind this Dunki?
This process of visiting a country without a legal visa, illegal entry through the back door, is called ‘donkey flying’ or ‘donkey process’. Initially, the term was exclusively associated with the UK, with many Indians visiting the UK this way. First, they went to Europe’s Schengen zone, an area of 27 European countries where only a Schengen visa is required. With a Schengen visa, one can cross the border into any of these countries. Although the UK was not part of the Schengen Zone, its proximity to Europe allowed individuals to travel to the UK via various routes within Europe, such as traveling in trucks, cars, or even walking for long periods of time. Migration Policy Institute data shows that even a decade ago, around 150 Indians were deported from the UK monthly. However, today, the ‘donkey process’ has evolved to include various backdoor entries, with a shift in priority for entry to the United States rather than the UK. In India, several visa agencies and companies facilitate this process, the agents involved in the transportation of individuals are called ‘donkers’. Two Indian states are famous for being the primary exporters of illegal immigrants, Gujarat and Punjab. But due to increasing unemployment in recent years, Haryana has also entered this competitive field. The fees charged by these agencies for their services vary depending on the package chosen, I am not kidding, they offer different packages, such as deluxe travel packages which include fake documents and travel More affordable packages also include support as well. , For those seeking a budget option, agencies can drop individuals off near the border, requiring them to complete the journey on foot. Depending on the package chosen, these agencies can charge anywhere from ₹2.5 million to ₹6 million. People who fall prey to these companies either do not realize that the regular visa fee is never that high or they are the ones who fail to obtain the regular visa. They may fail to meet certain requirements to obtain a visa. As a result, they may feel they have no choice but to make these payments. Given the illegal nature of this process, regular visa applications are bypassed. Sadly, to get this huge amount of money, people sell their farms and houses or use up their entire life savings. Some blame and responsibility should be assigned to these agencies and companies as they often mislead people with false promises. They assure applicants not only of a smooth journey to the US but also of abundant job opportunities, which conveniently hides the real challenges and legal hurdles that lie ahead. It is easy for many people who do not know about these matters to get trapped. These companies are taking advantage of the information gap. They didn’t tell many people where they were going. On January 12, after reaching Toronto, he traveled to the Canadian province of Manitoba, located 2,100 km away. A week later, they were dropped off near the city of Emerson, which is a small town, as you can see on this map. On the Canadian side, close to the US border, near North Dakota and Minnesota. When their bodies were discovered, there were no signs of any vehicle nearby, suggesting that they had been on foot for a long time. On the same day their bodies were found, a 47-year-old American citizen named Steve Shand was arrested 8 km from Emerson in Canada. He was driving a 15-seater van, which had two Gujarati passengers. Subsequently, five more Gujaratis were found 400 meters inside American territory. When he was caught by the authorities he claimed that he had been walking for 11 hours.
One of the five men had a backpack with diapers, toys and children’s clothes. He said it was not his bag. He told that there were four more people with him who lost their way. The bag belonged to that family. Despite the failed attempt, at least these seven men survived. He and the American citizen were later arrested by US authorities. Temperatures on America’s northern border with Canada may drop to -35°C to -40°C. Although some may consider the southern border with Mexico a better option, the southern US-Mexico border poses even greater dangers. Those attempting the ‘Donkey Process’ through this route face even greater challenges. “We came to America by donkey route, only four of us are left alive. We have not eaten and have been walking in these forests of Mexico for 5 days straight.” “Brother, the thing is that our parents are alone at home in India, they have paid ₹3.5 – ₹4 million. We have not even talked to our parents for almost 2 months” “I am all this “I want to tell you, no one should use this asshole process. Only use the legal route.” The ‘donkey route’ from South America starts from Ecuador or Brazil, two countries where it is comparatively easy for Indians to get visas. In Ecuador, visas were not required before 2019. However, once you arrive, you set out on a sweeping journey of thousands of kilometres. Traveling north through Colombia and Panama to Mexico. In its middle is a dense forest more than 100 kilometers wide, which is known as the Darien Gap. There is no road in this area. There are only mountains, forests, bushes and rivers. There are no government authorities in the area, it is considered one of the most dangerous places globally as drug cartels and guerrilla groups regularly use this route. Sadly, individuals using this route often become victims of gang violence, “We have just found out, one of the people traveling with us died. Donner shot him. His dead body was discovered recently. Some agents don’t pay full amount to donors, KL passengers eat donkeys. Many people have lost their lives this way.
I’ve heard reports of bodies not being found in the jungle for over 3 months.” After escaping the dangers of the jungle, migrants must face the scorching desert of Mexico and eventually encounter this high wall , which was likely constructed during Donald Trump’s presidency. , Overcoming this obstacle presents a difficult challenge. The treacherous nature of this journey is underlined by the alarming 2021 article. More than 650 people died in one year while trying to cross the US-Mexico border. Given the obvious dangers, a fundamental question arises: Despite the path being so difficult and dangerous, why do people invest lakhs of rupees in the ‘donkey process’ and willingly risk their lives? There are three main reasons behind this decision. Let’s discuss each of them. The first and foremost reason is the search for economic opportunities. Individuals who want to go abroad for better opportunities and a better life. They believe in the American dream. They believe that once they reach America, their lives will get better. Generally, people who are from the upper class or upper-middle class are also motivated by similar aspirations of leaving the country. However, they do have access to legal means. They have enough good jobs, they can apply for jobs abroad. Or they have relevant academic qualifications to study in foreign universities. However, people belonging to the lower middle class cannot opt for these legal methods as they neither have money nor qualifications. Mitesh Trivedi, who left India for Canada 30 years ago, told BBC that despite being a highly educated engineer in India, he could not progress in his career. “I was born lower-middle class. If I had stayed there, I would have died lower-middle class.” Eventually, he got Canadian citizenship in 2000 and now has a profitable restaurant in Canada. Success stories like Mitesh Trivedi are found all over the country. When family and friends hear these success stories, it often creates hope. As a result, more people are inspired to do the same.
These success stories often put social or familial pressure on their families, if every second person in the village is going abroad to America, people may consider it a matter of family prestige that at least one member of the family goes abroad just to Go. Otherwise he would not have been respected in the village. The data on this is shocking! Look at this chart. According to US Customs and Border Protection, the number of Indians attempting illegal entry into the US has increased significantly year-on-year. This number was negligible in 2013, but since 2017, in fact 2019 onwards, see a significant increase! More than 30,000 Indians attempted it in 2020-21. That number doubled to 63,927 in 2021-22, and the latest datapoint that is missing on this graph is even higher. This number increases to 96,000 between October 2022 and September 2023. About 100,000 Indians a year try to enter the US illegally. Of the 96,917 Indians, 30,000 were captured in Canada. And Mexico has 41,000. The issue extends beyond India, with people from different countries attempting the ‘donkey process’ to enter the US. The number of Mexicans doing so is higher than that of Indians, mainly because Mexico shares a border with the US. However, India tops the list among Asian countries. In 2015 the Center for Migration Studies revealed that about 450,000 Indians were found undocumented in the US, slightly higher than China, about 400,000. Additional country-wise data is displayed on the screen. Now, let’s look at another reason motivating individuals to do so. Increasing unemployment in the country. In recent years this issue has inspired many people, especially in Haryana. According to the September 2022 report of the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, Haryana ranks top in the country in terms of unemployment, the unemployment rate is highest in Haryana. An astonishing 37.3% are unemployed. Four times the national average.
This high rate is particularly prevalent in rural areas outside cities. Facing dire circumstances in their home country, these individuals feel that choosing this life-threatening path gives them a better option in their current circumstances. Thousands of unemployed people in villages are resorting to selling family land and gold to raise funds for this risky endeavor. Villages like Dharath, Morkhi and Kalwa in Haryana’s Jind district have become hubs for individuals seeking the ‘donkey procedure’. There is another way also. Going to Dubai on tourist visa. Living in shady hotels without food, and traveling to other countries in secret containers. Similar is the story of 20 year old Nischay Sharma from Haryana, who because his educational background was weak, he could not go abroad on student or job visa. So he opted for donkey flight. According to him, he was very lucky and reached his destination within 5 months. He reached California after traveling through 9 countries, passing through forests and bad weather. He claimed that this journey could take up to 2 years. People are often brutalized, imprisoned, or some may even lose their lives along the way. Haryanvi youth expressed disappointment over the toxic cycle of unemployment and incidents of paper leaks of entrance exams. However, many people do not fully realize the inherent dangers of this path. The third important reason behind individuals choosing the ‘donkey procedure’ is to avoid political persecution. People who flee their country due to incidents of persecution or discrimination against them. Technically, according to Border Patrol, this is the most commonly reported reason. However, is this the biggest motivation behind taking up ‘Donkey Flight’? Here’s an interesting fact for you: Have you ever wondered what people walking the ‘donkey route’ do after they cross the border? Do they continue to hide from the police and start a new life secretly? It’s not quite like that. The surprising thing is that most of the people voluntarily hand themselves over to the Border Patrol i.e. the guards posted on the border. Instead of attempting to escape from the authorities, they willingly accompany them.
The main reason for this is to seek refuge. Asylum, as defined by the United Nations Refugee Agency, is a form of protection. When someone asks for asylum in a country, that country agrees to protect them, allowing the person to remain in the country, acknowledging that they face danger in their own country. This threat can be political, where someone may suffer harm or even die. This may also include religious or racial discrimination. Individuals who take the ‘donkey route’ often approach Border Patrol saying they are seeking asylum. There are about 5 or 6 categories of persecution including religious persecution, if you are discriminated against because of your religious beliefs, if crimes are committed against you, political persecution, where a person is threatened because of his or her political beliefs. Is. If someone is threatened because of his ethnic or regional identity. The second form is caste-based oppression, where the individual is oppressed because of his or her caste. Or social group oppression. If violence occurs against a social group you are part of. Like women or LGBT+ community. Technically there can be many reasons for this. Although people who pursue this path illegally may cite any of these reasons, the determination of whether these claims are legitimate or reasonable falls under the jurisdiction of an immigration judge. Individuals applying for asylum after crossing the border must present their case in immigration court, providing justification and reasoning. It is important to prove in court that the claims made are genuine. Obviously, many people may lie, hiding their real reasons. Either one of the reasons I mentioned earlier. In such cases, individuals face deportation, with the millions they have already spent all coming to naught. Additionally, being caught lying can result in sanctions, which could prevent future legal travel to the US. Here, it is important to acknowledge that some individuals do indeed face these circumstances that force them to take ‘donkey flight’. For example, the story of Jashanpreet Singh from Jalandhar, mentioned in this report, Jashan was a 24-year-old openly gay man living in Jalandhar. They faced daily discrimination and harassment, with neighbors offering financial support to people they vaguely knew. The situation became so bad that one day it escalated from abuse to assault. He recalls how he was attacked by a mob of 15-20 people who were trying to kill him. Due to this one of his hands was cut off. He considered moving to another city in India. Since Indian culture is not very open-minded on LGBT+ issues, they were afraid. Ultimately, to somehow reach the Mexican border, he took the ‘donkey route’ through Turkey and France, through which he entered the United States. After crossing the border, Jashnpreet had applied for asylum. It was granted to him. The question arises: why choose the ‘donkey route’? The simple answer is that asylum is granted only to those persons who are physically present in the country. According to US rules, for asylum in America, a person has to live on American soil. However, such cases are rare, and it is important to note that economic migration does not amount to asylum. Individuals going through the asylum process face months or years of investigation, including possible ill-treatment or torture. Asylum applications can take years to process, and even after you’ve been in the US for years, they may decide you were lying, and therefore risk deportation. It is also important to remember that individuals are not immediately presented in immigration court upon crossing the border. Instead, they are first placed in detention centers, where people live in terrible conditions. There are detention centers where a large number of people are confined in a small room. And they have to stay there for weeks or months, until the authorities call them. “The officers are nice. The officers, yes. They treat you well here. But like I told you, you’re locked in. You’re not free. You’re depressed.” Finally, I want to say one simple thing. It is important to remember that life is priceless, it would not be appropriate to choose such risky paths by putting your life at stake.