December 8, 2022

Gujarati family of four, including infant, freezes to death on US-Canada border in minus 35 degrees C – Times of India

WASHINGTON: Four members presumed to be from one Indian family were found frozen to death on the United States-Canada border on Thursday, drawing attention to illegal Indian immigration in harsh American winter from the northern border, at a time when US focus centres largely on its southern border with Mexico.
The family comprising of a man, a woman, a teen and an infant, all yet to be identified, were reported to have been separated from a larger group of Indians who made it across the border in temperatures that reached minus 35 degrees Celsius. Their bodies were found within metres of the US border on the Canadian side.
In court documents filed in Minnesota, the nearest jurisdiction to the tragedy, authorities said the US border patrol had stopped a white, 15-passenger van driven by a Florida resident named Steve Shand — described as a suspected smuggler of undocumented foreign nationals — less than a mile, south of the border in a rural area. Two passengers were determined to be undocumented Indian nationals.
They then found five more people from India near the border and learned they were expecting to be picked up by someone and they had been walking in freezing conditions for about 11 hours. One of the group members had a backpack that had children’s belongings — clothes, a diaper, toys. It turned out he was carrying it for a family of four that had separated during a blizzard in the night. The family was later found frozen to death 30 feet from the US border.
“We’re very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way and that these individuals, including an infant, were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard, when the weather hovered around minus 35 degrees C, factoring the wind. These victims faced not only the cold weather but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness,” a Canadian official told reporters in Manitoba, calling it a “heart-breaking tragedy.”
The US Attorney’s office has charged Shand with one count of “knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law, having transported, and moved or having attempted to transport and move such aliens.”
Court documents said all the foreign nationals apprehended spoke Gujarati and most had limited or no English-speaking ability.
Hundreds of Indians, mostly from Punjab and Gujarat, attempt to cross into US from the southern border with Mexico often navigating arid desert in Latin America. But more recently there have been reports of incursions through the more loosely guarded northern border where terrain and weather conditions are totally different. Although authorities said the apprehended Indians were warmly dressed, it was not match for the brutal winter, which has brought minus 11 degree temperatures to even Washington DC.

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