NEW YORK: Members of an Indian family were among those who drowned while trying to illegally cross a river from Canada to the US, according to authorities. The eight people, whose bodies were found in a marsh near the St Lawrence River in a Native Canadian reservation in Quebec, included persons “believed to be citizens of India” who “are believed to have been attempting illegal entry into the US from Canada”, Lee-Ann O’Brien, the deputy chief of the local police, said on Friday.
Six of the bodies were discovered on Thursday during an air search, she said.
The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service (AMPS) later reported that two more bodies were found on Friday. One was of a woman believed to be an Indian citizen and the other was of an infant of Romanian descent with a Canadian passport, it said. The identities of those whose bodies were found were not revealed. O’Brien said at the videocast news conference that the AMPS was working with immigration and Homeland Security officials to confirm the identities of the dead and inform their relatives.
She said that the other family in the incident was believed to be from Romania. A boat that was found near the bodies belonged to a Native Canadian, Casey Oakes, who is also missing, she said. The area of the Akwesasne Mohawk Native Canadian reservation in Quebec abuts New York, which was the likely destination of those who tried to cross over.
Canada is providing a conduit for Indians trying to enter the US illegally. Last April, six Indians were rescued from the St Regis River by US Border Patrol agents after US authorities were alerted by the AMPS that a boat was sinking close to the US border.
In January last year, a family of four Indians were found frozen to death in Manitoba near the US border along Minnesota state. They were identified as Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, 39, and Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar Patel, 37, and their children, Vihangi Jagdishkumar Patel, 11, and Dharmik Jagdishkumar Patel, 3, from Dingucha in Gujarat.
Before their bodies were found, US authorities caught seven Indians nearby on their side of the border. Last August, seven people from Gujarat were detained by US authorities when they illegally entered the US from Quebec. The illegal immigration by Indians to the US from Canada is the opposite of the recent trend of people illegally crossing over in the opposite direction because of more liberal asylum regulations in Canada and better services available there.
More than 39,000 people, many who had come to the US on the southern border with Mexico, crossed into Canada last year leading to an agreement between the two countries to stop the migration.
Under the deal reached last week by US President Joe Biden and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, both countries agreed to turn back people illegally crossing the border. Now Indians caught trying to enter the US from Canada will be sent back there.
The US-to-Canada migration was the result of a domino effect: People from Central America and elsewhere cross into the US; the states and cities on the border, both Republican and Democrat-controlled, because of the pressure from the influx send some of them by bus to New York, a liberal Democrat city that is a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants, and New York, facing similar pressures in providing for them, in turn, sent them Canada.