The Harsh Realities of Illegal Immigration Explored in SRK’s Dunki
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The Harsh Realities of Illegal Immigration Explored in SRK’s Dunki


Illegal immigration is an occurrence that happens much more often than one could imagine. This is a huge step to take for any person, as they’d have to leave the comfort of their own country to go to another. The journey is also a tremendously hard one, leaving a person in a difficult situation. The recently released Hindi movie ‘Dunki’ offers the audience a fictional representation of the realistic scenario of illegal immigration. This article sheds light on the growing issue of undocumented immigration, explaining the reasons why people turn to this path full of hardships, and those challenges that they are faced with.

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Why do People choose to Immigrate Illegally?

Factors supporting the decision to migrate are classified into push and pull factors of immigration. Push factors are those that force a person to move away from their home country. These factors may include reasons such as any kind of threat that a person might face in their home country, lack of job opportunities, worsening climatic conditions, etc. Pull factors are those that make another country look desirable. These might include better educational prospects or a chance to make a better life.

While these factors stand true for both legal and illegal means of immigration, deciding to take an illegal path means that the influencers were stronger. People in desperate situations opt for these means. The main reason is due to the denial of the visa. People who are denied visas are usually among the poor population. They are unable to obtain visas due to reasons such as lack of education. People who dream of going abroad might do so to be able to earn more money.

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Motivation plays a huge role in decision-making, especially because moving abroad has a motive of having a better life. Their decision is also shaped by past experiences and expectations that seem to be the best option at the moment. There are many reasons why people decide to migrate. The movie ‘Dunki’ shows four different characters and portrays their life to show why they wish to go abroad. While the reasons are diverse, the will is constant, making all these characters ready to go through the donkey route or the Dunki.

How do People Immigrate Illegally?

As seen in the movie ‘Dunki,’ the characters took the donkey route to reach England. The name of this route is derived from the Punjabi word ‘dunki’, which means hopping from place to place. This is the illegal route used to reach other countries through agents at each place with connections. Other than taking an illegal route to enter the country, people who obtain visas, but are not citizens, extend their stay in the country. Border crossing card violation is another means of illegal immigration. This is one of the lesser-used means of illegal immigration.

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A BCC is only issued to Mexican nationals. When people immigrate by illegal means, human trafficking and smuggling networks come into play. These people are required to pay huge amounts of money to agents who take them through a dangerous and illegal path. This journey can be life-threatening. These people might also encounter situations of physical abuse, rape, or other traumatizing experiences. Since they leave their homes knowing the risks attached to it, the journey is accompanied by psychological strain.

Challenges of Illegal Immigration:

People set out to overcome past difficulties and chase many illusionary ideas such as the American dream. These ideas are strengthened when immigrants show a false picture of their condition to their families back home. This was depicted in ‘Dunki’ where the false representation of the true life abroad was seen. It was backed by the valid justification of disappointing family members and avoiding hurting them. However, it also gave other people hope that maybe going through the Dunki path would solve their problems. With the little hope that they might fulfil their dreams, they put their lives at risk.

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Recent reports have mentioned that the number of Indians is the third largest among illegal immigrants in the USA. One of the biggest challenges faced by an immigrant is being able to speak their language. Securing housing facilities also becomes a problem. Above that accessing many services becomes difficult. These immigrants are often looked down upon. As a result, they don’t get equal or deserved job opportunities. In many cases, problems arise because immigrants aren’t informed about their rights. Since they are illegally present in a country, a fear factor is always present about being deported. This results in social isolation, which further gives way to mental health issues.

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Impacts on Immigrants’ Mental Health:

The issues of mental health are often ignored due to the life-threatening situation. However, illegal immigration can take a huge toll on a person’s mental well-being, which can be harmful. The risk of uncertainty during the journey increases stress levels in immigrants. Survivors are often exposed to a lot of trauma, making them vulnerable to anxiety and depression and leaving permanent scars. This is characterized by hypervigilance in immigrants as they are scared of being caught or deported. Other mental health disorders such as PTSD can also be seen among these immigrants as they settle in the new country. Over time, these attitudes lead to great mental exhaustion.

A 2021 review titled “Undocumented Immigrants and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Recent Methodology and Findings in the United States” highlighted that studies have constantly documented psychological distress among undocumented immigrants. This stress is only added to when these immigrants are subjected to discrimination. Stressors differ from situation to situation, and at different stages of immigration. Before Immigrating, stress can be caused due to financial situation or feelings of failure. During illegal immigration, environmental hazards, long journeys, and witnessing death might result in stress. Limited access to resources, being unable to adjust to the new environment, or being constantly exploited by citizens contribute to causing stress.

The Centre of Immigration Studies reported that there were 11.35 million illegal immigrants in the USA in January 2022. Over 50% of these immigrants packed health insurance, making them unable to afford standard healthcare in the country. Knowing that in need, they will be in a helpless situation makes them dread living in a new country. Many immigrants also face homelessness. In such situations, they encounter many hardships, that take a toll on their wellbeing.

Summing Up

The decision to immigrate illegally is backed by many factors. However, a person only takes this decision when they are in a desperate state. Sometimes, the decision might prove to be fruitful, but in the majority of cases, it isn’t worth it. These decisions are based on big dreams that often have no strong foundation. In such cases, immigrants find themselves in a very bad spot. They might want to return home, which also becomes difficult. Illegal immigration takes a toll on the immigrants. Many times, family members are also faced with distress as they don’t even know if their loved one is alive.

Since immigrants don’t know their rights properly, they are also scared to avail basic amenities, which adds to their suffering, and that of their children as well. In most parts of the world, illegal immigration is not seen as a criminal offence. Consequences include deportation and ban from the country for a certain period. Immigrants need to know their rights to avoid adding to stress and poor well-being. Before that, it is necessary to have a clear picture and set goals to avoid the negative consequences of acts such as illegal immigration.

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