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Before election, Mamata playing illegal Bangladeshi immigrants card

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By Amitava Mukherjee

New Delhi: A dangerous situation may arise in the country if Mamata Banerjee’s demand for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi immigrants living in India for more than five years is conceded.

The West Bengal chief minister has called for restoration of the district magistrates’ former rights to grant citizenship which, in effect, may facilitate further immigration from Bangladesh.

The situation in West Bengal is so grim that as early as in the 1980s T V Rajeswar, a former IB director and former governor of the state, was forced to write in a mass circulation daily cautioning against heavy infiltration from Bangladesh.

His article averred that in the 1981 census, the total population growth rate for West Bengal was 23.2 percent while that of the minority community was 29.6 percent. In the same census, the overall yearly population growth of the state was 2.3 percent. But in the districts bordering Bangladesh the figures were higher: 2.7 percent in 24 Parganas, 3.3 percent in Nadia, 2.55 percent in Murshidabad, and 2.66 percent in both Malda and Jalpaiguri.

The same pattern continued in the 1991 census. The average population growth rate of West Bengal was 24.73 percent – quite an abnormally high figure. But the districts bordering Bangladesh showed even higher figures: North Dinajpore (34 percent), North 24 Parganas (31.69 percent), South 24 Parganas (30.24 percent), Murshidabad (28.20 percent) and Nadia (29.95 percent). This proved that illegal immigration from Bangladesh was continuing. It is continuing unchecked even today.

The issue is sensitive and must be handled with statesmanship. Banerjee is playing this card a bit rashly with an eye on the coming election as she has reasons to be somewhat worried about a probable Left Front-Congress electoral understanding. But she has picked up the right point from this complicated maze of population movement.

Although Rajeswar had mentioned the abnormal rise of the minority population in the 1981 census, he had missed one vital point: exodus of the Hindus from Bangladesh since the birth of that nation. The hard truth is that both Hindus and Muslims are emigrating from Bangladesh to India and there is no point in giving it a communal character.

The only logical reason behind Banerjee’s demand for granting citizenship to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants may be her fright that a significant quantum of votes which the BJP could garner in the last parliamentary election may be transferred this time to either the Left or the Congress.

In the last municipality elections, the BJP’s share of votes had dwindled by about 50 percent and this portion had found its way to the Left kitty. As most of these municipalities are situated in the Indo-Bangladesh border areas, playing the “citizenship for the immigrants” card may have temptations.

It is likely that the BJP, too, will lap up this issue. During the last parliamentary poll campaign, Narendra Modi held out promises in this regard. Some time back Rajnath Singh, the union home minister, had lamented about the centre’s inability on the issue as the BJP does not enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

The issue has now become a double-edged weapon. On one hand, voting patterns in large numbers of constituencies in 24 Parganas (North) , 24 Parganas (South), Kolkata, Nadia and several districts of north Bengal may be affected by majoritarian sentiments arising out of the issue. On the other hand, the minority community can also influence results in 60-odd constituencies.

West Bengal is now sitting on a powder keg and no one should try to disturb the fragile equilibrium that is still holding the social fabric together. There is no point in crying over Muslim immigration from Bangladesh. Hindus are also coming. In 1951, East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, had 22 percent Hindus. Now the number has come down to a mere seven percent. Where are they going ? The natural answer is India.

Moreover, Bangladesh being a Muslim-majority country, it is but natural that there will be a considerable number of Muslims among the emigrants. Trying to give a communal colour to it will be unjust.

In 1951, West Bengal’s population had 79.40 percent Hindus and 18.63 percent Muslims. In 1981 the number of Hindus decreased to 77.10 percent while that of the Muslims increased up to 21.55 percent. In 2001, the share of the Hindus in the total population further came down to 72.90 percent, but the Muslims’ share jumped up to 25.37 percent.

As per the 2011 census, Hindus now constitute 72.5 percent of the population of the state. No doubt it shows a decline. This declining trend is noticeable in the minority community’s share of the total population also at 25.2 percent. But the rate of decrease is slower.

Many experts have however expressed reservations about the sharp decrease in the population growth rate in West Bengal during 2001-2011. According to the 2011 census, the growth rate was 17.84 percent in 2001 but nosedived to 13.84 percent in 2011.

Any attempt to give citizenship to Bangladeshi illegal immigrants may seriously jeopardize the political, social and economic life of the country as well as its security scenario too. West Bengal or the north eastern Indian states can no longer accommodate the Bangladeshis. So neither Mamata Banerjee nor any other political party should tinker with such an explosive situation. (IANS)

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Immigration Predictions for 2019 in the United States

The reduction in the legal number of immigration in the country will also bring big reduction to the rate at which international students are given visa

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immigration, US
Immigration in the United States is no more the way it used to be in the past; it has had a lot of changes in the past two years which makes it more difficult for potential migrants all over the world.

Immigration in the United States is no more the way it used to be in the past; it has had a lot of changes in the past two years which makes it more difficult for potential migrants all over the world. Most of these changes were predicted by experts of immigration since 2017 before the changes started rapidly in 2018. President Trump has made it very clear that he has started a big reformation at the immigration sector, his claims have made a lot of immigrants think twice before applying for the United States visa or traveling to the country. In early 2019, the country was rocked with a government shutdown all over the country due to the argument that occurred among the Congress over the idea of President Trump to build a wall which would cost billions of dollar at the border of the country with Mexico.  Later in the year after the commencement of the wall, many other laws have been amended, which include the ESTA which would be decided in 2020 if it will be stopped or not. The border patrol has also been strengthened with the increment in salaries of officers and purchase of new arms and ammunition for them. As a lot of immigration policies and laws have been amended within two years, predictions of laws that may come up and laws that could be amended in 2019 should be discussed because there are lots of immigration law amendments that are still under deliberation in courts all over the country and the Congress. Below are things that could happen to the United States immigration laws and policies in 2019:

Reduction in the legal figure of immigration – The legal number of immigration in the United States have been stable over the years; the country gives visa to thousands of people all over the world as it has a huge legal immigration figure. With the introduction of new immigration policies and a lot of ongoing deliberation, there is a probability that the number of visas that the country gives yearly will be reduced to half of the former figure or even lower than that. Ban has been placed on a few countries of the world in the United States, which means visa cannot be given to citizens of such countries except in very special cases. The visa lottery has also been canceled in many countries that were entitled to in the past years. These are great signs that the number of visas given has been reduced drastically and will be reduced more.

Retrieval of citizenship – Immigrants who are fortunate to have naturalized to become United States citizens over the years, should be aware that their citizenship is not permanent and could be stripped off. The deliberation to cancel the ESTA and some other immigration laws backingnaturalization in the country will strip some people of their United States citizenship if successfully canceled.

immigrants, US
It is predicted that it will become very difficult for immigrants who live in the country with expired visas as new immigration laws concerning short term visas will be enacted. Pixabay

Increase in deportations and visa denials –  The changes in policies in the country has made it clear that there is a very high probability that the number of visas given to immigrants will reduce which implies that the number of visa denials will increase drastically. It is also obvious that the number of immigrants that are deported yearly in the United States will increase to a very high number due to the strict laws against illegal immigrants that live in the countries. It is predicted that it will become very difficult for immigrants who live in the country with expired visas as new immigration laws concerning short term visas will be enacted.

The question, when do I need US visa? Is for everyone to except citizens of visa waiver program countries because they will need to register for ESTA online before they can gain access into the USA.

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Reduction in the admission of international students – International study is another way in which immigrants gain access to permission to travel to the United States. The number of international students in the country has been alarmingin the past two years, which makes it one of the possible immigration loopholes that the country may check. In the past, international students are favored when it comes to visa interview because of their motive of going to the United States. The reduction in the legal number of immigration in the country will also bring big reduction to the rate at which international students are given visa.

Stopping the entrepreneurship visas – Entrepreneurs who have a business that worth five hundred thousand dollars or more are usually given visas due to their involvement in the economy of the country. This type of visa may be canceled in 2019 because the cancelation of this type of visa is being deliberated upon in the Congress.