Indian teen 'runs away' from US home fearing deportation
A 14-year-old Indian-American school girl has been missing for more than three weeks in the US state of Arkansas, with the police indicating that she might have run away due to the fear of leaving America as her father faced the possibility of retrenchment amidst the layoffs in the tech industry.
Tanvi Marupally from Conway, Arkansas was last seen in her neighbourhood on January 17 when she left for school on the bus, the Conway Police Department (CPD) said. Police said they believe one of the possible reasons why she ran away was a fear of her family being deported, kark.com reported.
‘US immigration system has left us in cold’
Tanvi’s parents believe that their daughter ran away because of the family’s tenuous immigration status. They say even though they’ve legally lived and worked in the US for many years, hoping and trying to acquire citizenship, the country’s immigration system has left them out in the cold. Her father, Pavan Roy Marupally, who works in a tech company faced the possibility of losing his job due to ongoing layoffs in the technology sector.
However, he has informed the CPD that he is no longer at risk of losing his job and that leaving the country is not a concern at this time. According to The Washington Post, nearly 200,000 IT workers have been laid off since November last year, including some record numbers in companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.
As per some industry insiders, between 30 to 40 per cent of them are Indian IT professionals, a significant number of whom are on H-1B and L1 visas. According to LayoffTracker.com, 91,000 were laid off just in January 2023 and this number may grow in the coming months. This has a huge impact on them, and their families, especially on the H-1B holders who would need to leave the US immediately within 10 days beyond the H-1B grace period.
Her mother, Sridevi Eadara, also lost her job, the report added. Sridevi had to return to India alone and reapply for a visa as a dependent of Pavan. It took a year before she could return to be with her family.
‘Told my daughter not to panic’
When asked by his daughter what they would do should he lose his work visa, Pavan told her not to panic. “I said…let you and your mom first go back to India, let me figure out what and how the system works out, get a proper job, and then call you back,” Pavan said.
“(She said) what, go back to India? Why should I go back to India? I’ve been here.” Her parents believe the prospect of being ripped from her home in the US was too much for their daughter, the report added.
“It is a big deal, any time a child leaves it’s a big deal,” Conway Police spokesperson Lacey Kanipe said on Tuesday. “We’re continuing to remain positive, our goal is to reunite her with her family,” Kanipe said.
The community and the CPD continue to search for her and now there’s a reward for whoever can find her. The CPD said they asked the US Marshals Service and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children for their assistance with this investigation. Tanvi’s family is offering a USD 5,000 reward in hope of bringing her home.
(With Agency inputs)