Indian Family Found Frozen While Crossing U.S.-Canada Border At Night – Forbes

The Patel family were found frozen to death less than 15 yards from the U.S. border south of … [+] Winnipeg.
Not long ago Jagdish Patel, a 39-year-old Indian National who was in Canada, with his spouse Vaishaliben and their two small children, ages 11 and 3, were found frozen to death in southern Manitoba near the U.S. – Canada border. They had been dropped off the previous evening in Emerson, a small town about 70 miles due south of Winnipeg, where night-time temperatures regularly drop below -30 degrees during the winter. They had attempted to walk a few miles across snow-covered barren farm fields into the U.S. Their journey started earlier with a group of at least five other Indian nationals in Canada who were all dropped off at a point near the U.S. They were all wearing brand new coats and gloves making the treacherous journey to America on foot, in the pitch dark. Only the Patel family did not make it.
According to Reuters, the victims were residents of Dingucha, a village in Gujarat, and “had incurred severe financial losses while operating a small retail shop and were unable to make ends meet from their farm income. The couple felt they were struggling to run their home and the kids needed better education.” That was the reason why they left their homeland.
The family of four had set off from their village on January 10th, 2022 with Canadian visitor visas in their passports. They landed in Toronto on January 12th. On their arrival, Patel called his father and cousin back in India to let them know that it was cold, but they were all fine and in a hotel. Seven days later they were found dead near their Emerson crossing point.
Experts say it is rare for irregular migrants to travel in the southern direction trying to sneak into the U.S. from Canada.
A Syrian refugee boards a bus headed towards Toronto. (Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty … [+] Images)
“We’ve seen that with asylum seekers bound for Canada. This is the first time we’re hearing about people who were on their way to the United States. It’s a little hard to fathom why that would be the case,” said Queen’s University immigration law professor Sharry Aiken in an interview with the Toronto Star.
According to the Star, in December 2016, two Ghanaians Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal survived the treacherous journey through hip-deep snow and biting cold, crossing from North Dakota to Manitoba via Emerson for asylum in Canada. The former lost most of his fingers after nearly freezing to death. Previously, a 57-year old Ghanaian asylum seeker died of hypothermia while attempting to cross into Canada in the same Emerson border crossing area in May 2017
Referring to the Patel family incident, an article in the Guardian indicated that, “the standard cost for a family of four to get to the U.S. is 16.5m rupees (£164,000) – a staggering sum, particularly for a rural farming community.” That’s almost $ 225,000 U.S. The Guardian indicated that, “Patel’s father, a farmer, is said to have paid half the sum in cash for his son’s travel to the U.S. and the other half in the form of 20 acres of land.”
Police investigations are underway. They believe these deaths involved a smuggling ring bringing immigrants to the United States through Canada and Mexico. But there are some simple questions that can be asked about what happened and why this family paid so much to be smuggled into the U.S. when they could have tried other options.
For one thing, why America? Did they have family in America? If so, could the family have sponsored them? If not, did they ever try to visit America? Likely they tried, but were turned down. It appears they were probably not highly educated. If not, there really were no good job-based U.S. immigration options for the family there. It seems like they were prepared to come to America as irregular immigrants and hope that they could somehow make it. Perhaps they planned to make an asylum claim.
What about Canada? After all, they were in Canada as visitors. There are some provincial nominee programs for farmers for which they may have qualified. Perhaps they could have tried for an Owner/Operator work visa. Perhaps a Start Up visa.
There are citizenship by investment options available to immigrants.
There were also other Citizenship by Investment options involving countries like Antigua, for example, where for about $ 150,000 U.S. a family of four can get citizenship within a matter of a few months. At least there they may have had a better start.
All this assumes the family had the capacity to research options for themselves. That is probably an unreasonable proposition. But given what happened, one can’t help but wonder how they came to the conclusion that entering the United States through Canada was their best option. Without better knowing their circumstances, it is difficult to suggest what would have been better. Whatever the details were, clearly in this case, the price they paid for the option they took was too high. We are all saddened by that.
If anything, this case demonstrates that it is not enough simply to seek a better life for yourself and your family haphazardly. Immigration is a matter that requires planning and preparation. Studying what occupations are needed and getting credentials for those positions is essential if your intention is to work in America.
The case proves that planning your transition, even including things like the path you will take and the time of year, are important.
One lesson that can be learned is that more needs to be done to reign in human smugglers. But we would be remiss to stop there. More needs to be done to help families like the Patels. For example, if India had an investment treaty with the United States, like Pakistan and Bangladesh, for example, Mr. Patel might have been able to qualify for an E-2 work visa and bring his whole family with him to the USA on that basis.
Finally, on a higher level, we are not doing well when young families like this one need to risk so much to attain a better life. The story reminds us that there is still a lot to be done to make this world a better place for all of us.


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