Officials said they know little about the specifics of the cases and could not tell from their own data whether people had overstayed visas or were convicted of more serious criminal offenses.
The request — which U.S. immigration officials insisted was routine — was nonetheless significant because it comes at a time when the administration of President Trump has launched raids and other wide-ranging efforts to arrest and deport many of the United States’ 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, particularly those with criminal backgrounds.
Of particular concern, according to Trump’s Jan. 25 immigration order, are countries that drag their feet accepting their wayward citizens back.
A rising number of Indians are living illegally in the United States — an estimated half a million people — according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center.
Returning them to their home country, particularly if they are criminals, has not always been easy. India has been dropped from a list of 20 countries labeled “recalcitrant” in accepting their citizens who have been convicted of crimes in the United States or overstayed their visas, and have deportation orders issued by a court.
Countries on the “recalcitrant” list are often slow to issue travel papers because original documents have been destroyed and because their economies rely in part on money sent home to relatives.