As an openly gay man living in a deeply conservative part of India’s Punjab, life had long been hard for Jashan Preet Singh.
Over the years, Mr Singh, 24, had grown accustomed to daily discrimination in his hometown of Jalandhar – harassment and beatings doled out by his neighbours, and a family that had largely turned its back on him.
But what happened late last year was different.
“There were 15 or 20 people who tried to kill me,” he told the BBC from Fresno, California. “I ran away from there and saved my life. But they cut various parts of my body.” The attack left him with a mutilated arm and a severed thumb.
Mr Singh’s escape set him on a journey that took him through Turkey and France. Eventually, it led him to the US-Mexico border, nearly 8,000 miles (12,800km) away, where he crossed into California to begin a new life in the US.
He is not alone – for years, the arrival of Indian migrants in the US has been slow but steady, amounting to dozens or hundreds each month.
This year, however, the figures have spiked.
Since the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year that started last October, a record 16,290 Indian citizens have been taken into US custody at the Mexican border. The previous high of 8,997 was recorded in 2018.
Experts point to a number of reasons for the increase, including a climate of discrimination in India, an end to pandemic-era restrictions, a perception that the current US administration is welcoming to asylum seekers and the ramping-up of previously established smuggling networks.