South Asians were deported at a much higher rate than many other immigrants. There are few cases that required an inquiry into the reasoning for why men were getting deported; the majority of deportations were on the ground of men not having the correct paperwork or the assumption that they are likely to become a public charge (LPC). The ability to be able to take care of oneself was the biggest decision-maker when it came to a person’s acceptance into the country or not.

Noor Din arrived in the United States prior to 1914 and therefore was not affected by either the Barred Zone Act nor the National Origins Quota Act. Prior to departing the U.S., Din ensured he had paperwork from whites in the community stating that he was an alien who lived in the country and worked in the country. With this paperwork he returned home to India, knowing that should he return to the U.S. the paperwork would ease his reentry. Then, when Din returned to the United States in 1921 he discovered that this paperwork did not assist him because no one who was listed on the original paperwork was able to be located by INS officials. Confounding his reentry was the Barred Zone Act, making it almost impossible for any non-Japanese Asian to enter the country. While the “barred zone” only restricted Chinese and Japanese immigration, the British government passed restrictive regulations that made it illegal to leave British India without a passport.[1] These regulations meant that Din required documentation stating he was a British citizen. Such documentation would have gotten him an immediate entry into the U.S. but because Din lacked this documentation he was denied entry on the grounds that Din would become an LPC. Din was deported to India in 1922, but was eventually able to get into the United States. In 1930 Din reappeared in the U.S. Census alongside a 5-year-old daughter, who would likely have been a birthright citizen.[2] Based on this documentation he lived in El Centro, California also known as the Imperial Valley. Another document shows that has Social Security benefits that were granted to Din in the 1950s, meaning that Din was able to become a citizen.[3] Although Din’s cases is one of the more positive cases on deportation there were some immigrants who were not as successful.

Teja Singh. Taken by Cassie Haynes

Teja Singh entered the United States multiple times meaning his case to spans from the early 1920s until 1940. T. Singh claimed that he had entered the country around 1917 and then had returned to India. He also stated that he had paperwork from those for whom he worked and stating he had owned property. When dealing with INS, however, none of this was able to be proven because he had been arrested for attempting illegal entry. T. Singh was apprehended attempting to enter through Mexico, which was common for South Asians during this time due to the restrictions placed on those entering from a ‘barred zone.’ Along the Mexican American border were labor camps from which coyotes would smuggle South Asians across the border into California for $200.[4] This method of smuggling likely was the way T. Singh entered the U.S. Although it may have taken some time to collect the money to pay the coyote T. Singh was able to enable him to cross the border. When he and a group of other Sikh men were discovered to have illegally entered by INS, they were tried and found guilty of illegal entry and deported. Since it was required for immigrants to show that they were able to care for themselves while in a new country.[5] T. Singh did not have the resources to get in the country hence he was made an LPC.[6] Due to his illegal entry into the country and the ability to become an LPC, it was decided that he would not make a good immigrant forcing INS to deport him.   

While these two men had a similar background when it came to their deportation, the former followed the proper procedure as an immigrant who had been in the country before but was denied due to a lack of information as well as lacking a support system. The latter went a different, illegal, route, causing him to be barred from the country. The legislation that was passed after both had attempted to return to the country was the biggest factor in their deportation. While these men were British citizens their nation of origin was in the ‘barred zone’ which deemed them ineligible to enter the United States.

[1] Nayan Shah, “ Intimate Dependency, Race, and Trans-Imperial Migration,” The Sun Never Set:South Asian Migrants in an Age of U.S. Power, ed. Viveck Bald, Miabi Chatterji, Sujani Reddy and Manu Vimalassery, New York University press: New York, 2013, 28.

[2] 1930 U.S. Census, El Centro California, Noor Din, digital image, Accessed November 20, 2019,

[3] File 54988/36, Subject and Policy Files, 1893-1957, Records of Immigration and Naturalization Services, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC).

[4] Nayan Shah, “ Intimate Dependency, Race, and Trans-Imperial Migration,” 37.

[5] Nayan Shah, “ Intimate Dependency, Race, and Trans-Imperial Migration,” 35.

[6] File 53246/4,  Subject and Policy Files, 1893-1957, Records of Immigration and Naturalization Services, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC).

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