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Indian nationals arrive at Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi on Oct. 18, after being deported from Mexico as they tried to enter the United States. A total of 311 Indians who paid tens of thousands of dollars each trying to get into the United States arrived back in their home country after an "unprecedented" mass deportation by Mexico. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

In one of the largest-known mass deportations, Mexico sent back 311 undocumented Indians who arrived in New Delhi Oct. 18.

As many as 9,000 Indians and other South Asians tried to enter the U.S. last year via the U.S.-Mexico border, seeking asylum. In 2017, an estimated 7,000 asylum seekers arrived in the same manner, according to rough estimates from the Sikh American Legal Defense Fund. In their asylum claims, many Indian minorities, including Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians, have stated they have faced violence and persecution in India, from both private actors and public officials.

Many asylum seekers travel by foot for several months before reaching the U.S. Mexico border. They then wait an undetermined period of time in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention before their asylum claim is heard. Bond hearings — which would allow an undocumented immigrant to remain with family until the asylum case is resolved — are becoming increasingly rare, and are almost always denied, according to immigration activists.

In July, President Donald Trump issued a ban on asylum for people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, ordering that they must apply for asylum at the first “safe” country through which they transited. The U.S. has not declared Mexico a safe country, but nevertheless insists that travelers must apply for asylum there first. A federal court in July issued an injunction on the order, but asylum seekers nonetheless have remained in limbo, having to wait in Mexico until they are allowed to arrive in the U.S.

The Mexico-based National Migration Institute said in a statement Oct. 17 that the mass deportation was “unprecedented.” The undocumented immigrants — 310 men and one woman who were in various parts of the country — were flown to Delhi on a chartered jet.

"It is unprecedented in INM's history — in either form or the number of people — for a transatlantic air transport like the one carried out on this day," INM said in a statement.

The New York Times reported that the Mexican government had struck a deal with the United States in June, vowing to significantly curb U.S.-bound migration in exchange for averting U.S. tariffs on Mexican exports.

IANS reports that Indian workers in the technology sector have also increasingly been arriving into the U.S. without papers, as rules for H-1B visas tighten. The most popular routes are via Mexico and Hungary, the wire service reported.

The most popular route to enter the U.S. illegally for Indians in Mexico is to hitch rides and reach the western city of Guadalajara.

The other popular spot for Indians to enter the U.S. illegally is Budapest in Hungary. U.S. officials recently uncovered a fraud scheme that has allowed foreign nationals to enter the U.S. under false identities, using vulnerabilities in Hungary's passport system, reports IANS.

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