A resolution introduced by Indian-American member Pramila Jayapal and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley in the U.S. House of Representative on Friday, last week asked the Department of Justice to commit sufficient resources to investigate hate crimes against South Asians and Jews in the country and urged President Donald Trump to “end his inflammatory rhetoric.”
Sixty-seven members of the House have signed the resolution, Jayapal said, addressing a gathering of protesters at Capitol Hill. Crowley and Indian American members Ami Bera and Ro Khanna also spoke at the protest event on Friday, March 10th. Bera and Jayapal were of the opinion that the violence against minority groups in America could not be considered isolated incidents, and there is now a pattern to it. Mr. Khanna, however, has said the South Asian community must remain positive while standing united against hate, given the wide support it gets from other Americans. The Congressman from Silicon Valley pointed out that Google has an Indian-origin CEO and while MasterCard CEO is an Indian-American Sikh.
‘America is our country’
“The victims of recent attacks in Kansas and Washington State were told to go back to their country. I have been told that numerous times. America is our country,” Jayapal said. “I came to this country as a 16-year old student without a penny. I could go on to become a Congressperson and that is the greatness of America,” she said at the event organised by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a group that works for racial justice and civil rights.
Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT, said a recent study by the group has documented over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans during the 2016 elections. “Ninety-five percent of incidents motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Notably, President Trump was responsible for 21% of the xenophobic political rhetoric we tracked,” she said.
“What we see today is violence against those perceived to be foreign and a slew of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies coming out of the White House. That toxic mix is causing a palpable level of fear in the Indian-American and broader South Asian community. I’m committed to doing anything within my power to stop these acts of violence,” said Crowley.
“The resolution is an act of resistance to Donald Trump’s hateful vilification and ‘otherising’ of immigrants and communities of colour. Acts of violence rooted in racism have spiked since his campaign,” Jayapal said. “Attacking someone based on where they come from or what they look like insults the very core of everything that we stand for as a nation of immigrants. As a nation, we must stand up to these hateful attacks, which means doubling down on our commitments to safety, equality, and the American values of liberty and justice for all,” Mr. Bera said.
Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is away from Washington, told reporters on a teleconference that he was working with lawmakers to press Trump administration to take urgent action against hate crimes. “All Indian-American members of Congress are from the minority Democratic minority. We are trying to work with Republican members of Congress to use the legislative branch’s oversight powers over Justice and Homeland Security departments to effect more active response to the situation,” he said.