Statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have confirmed what anecdotal and other accounts have established — illegal immigration from Punjab continues unabated in an increasing hostile world environment. It comes as no surprise that 84 per cent of such immigrants are uneducated — if not, many of them would have joined the ranks of the other Indian immigrants who have made a place in the world with their professionalism and skills.
The UNODC report maintains that 20,000 persons from Punjab try to migrate illegally every year, and most of them do so by selling off a part of their land. They sell off tangible assets for an intangible dream that often turns nightmarish. The study shows that the preferred destination is the UK, with its English language and the large Punjabi diaspora being the main attractions. Ironically, because they are uneducated, the immigrants lack English language proficiency, and thus they face many difficulties. Illegal immigrants have 57 other destination countries, including the US.
It is vital that we equip our citizens with specific skills that are in demand in destination countries. The Indian diaspora is centuries old, and the reasons for immigration remain the same, a perceived lack of opportunity at home and the dream of making it big in a foreign land. Most of the Punjabi immigrants, according to the study, are young, 55 per cent between 21-30 years. Lack of education contributes to their being duped by agents who promise them the moon, while sometimes delivering them to hell. The agents are seldom punished, because victims often reach out-of-court compromises and don't pursue cases. The agents should be punished to the full extent of the law and effort must be made to ensure that the immigration sector operates in a transparent manner, is regulated properly and all players are held accountable for their actions.