How's this for an immigration triple play?
Mexico chartered a jet plane to deport 311 Indian migrants back to their homeland, reported Al Jazeera, the Qatari-based news service. They had illegally been in Mexico and most of them were presumably on their way to the United States. Most were from the Punjab in northern India.
Mexican authorities said that this was a first in the nation's history.
This bare-bones news article raised two, totally unrelated, questions in my mind, the first trivial and the second substantive:
- India is in Asia, which is on the other side of the Pacific. Why fly over the Atlantic, as the article reported?
- Most Indians are not from Punjab, the homeland of the Sikhs, so why was this collection of migrants, who had been scattered around Mexico, and apparently not traveling as a group, coming from the Punjab?
To answer the first question I borrowed a tape measure from my wife, and dusted off an old globe we have. The Indian government was right, but it was close. The tape measure showed that the Mexico City to New Delhi distance over the Atlantic was 19.5 inches, with the flight going over Scotland, at one point, while it was 19.75 inches, over the Pacific, with the flight looking down at Alaska and Siberia on the way.
The second question does not come with a clear-cut answer, but maybe the Punjabis were in Mexico because of bias on the part of the ultra-Hindu government in New Delhi, and on the part of the Hindu-dominated Indian outsourcing companies whose discrimination (within the H-1B program) in favor of young males from the south of the country has been well documented.
And recently, despite the opposition of the Sikhs in Kashmir, the government of India has eliminated the level of autonomy formerly enjoyed there.
So if you are a striving Sikh, upset by what is happening in your native land, and you cannot get a job with Infosys and the like, maybe an option is trying to move to the United States by the tried and true method: an illegal crossing of the southern border.
All of this reminds us of the original motive for starting the Border Patrol back in 1924; the perceived threat was said to be incursions from illegal Chinese migrants, not those from Mexico. It is safe to say that, in those days, a ship would have been used as the deportation vehicle.