Indian “Dreamers” and Citizenship Laws: A Tussle of Sovereignty and Human Rights

Shama Mahajan
Symbiosis Law School, Pune, India.

Volume III, Issue V, 2020

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) has been the center stage of political debates and community protests. CAA was widely slammed for being anti-muslim in its scope and thus contrary to the secular ethos of the Indian State. However, a number of its wider and greater implications were overshadowed by the “majority-minority” aura surrounding it. The aim of the article is to analyse one of such implications of CAA which has not attracted much debate or thought. The “Dreamers” i.e. the innocent children of illegal immigrants [who in the USA were entitled to temporary permits to stay and work in the USA under a program called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA)] in India who will suffer under the dual hardships of CAA as well as the existing Citizenship Laws of India.

This article aims to analyse the human rights violations of such “dreamers” in India under CAA and citizenship laws in the light of their possible expulsion/deportation. It offers a perspective of USA’s DACA and the surrounding human rights debate over its cancellation and the governing jurisprudence which Indian courts can rely upon in deciding the constitutionality of CAA and expulsion/deportation of “dreamers”.

Research Question and Objective: Whether the international human rights regime and jurisprudence of American DACA, help in protecting the rights of “Indian dreamers” from being violated under CAA, and Citizenship Laws of India as far as their expulsion/deportation is concerned.