New Indian Citizenship Law Leaves Few Satisfied

The government of India has recently passed a law that allows some illegal immigrants from neighboring countries to attain citizenship. The new migrants must be from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan and face religious persecution as a Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Jain, Buddhist, or Christian minorities. The new law would pave the way for potentially hundreds of thousands of new Indian citizens.

The law is controversial, particularly among those living in the border districts who expressed concern about being “overwhelmed” by those seeking asylum. The concern is partly based around the distribution of economic resources in the region while others believe crime increase as poorer migrants cross into India.

Others are opposed to the bill for its seemingly deliberate exclusion of Muslims, particularly Rohingya Muslims from neighboring Bangladesh. The Islamic minority has undergone what human rights advocates argue amounts to ethnic cleansing. Villages have been burnt to the ground and millions displaced in the violence. The new law could greatly benefit these refugees but as of now the law is unlikely to change.

The current Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, has defended the measure, highlighting how many it helps in its current form. He has argued that it would be difficult to help the Muslims in these countries as they are the religious majority, potentially opening the door to many he would not consider refugees.

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