Describing the current situation on Indo-China border as very serious, US Congressman Jim Himes, a Democrat from the state of Connecticut, said, if elected to power the Joe Biden Administration will continue to offer mediation between India and China. Rep. Himes was addressing an interactive session via Zoom, organized by the GOPIO-CT Chapter on Thursday, October 8th, 2020. He called for serious and significant dialogue between two Asian giants, Rep. Himes referred to the efforts by the Trump administration to mediate between India and China, and he hoped that both the nations “accept the offer to mediate by the US Administration.”
Every year, GOPIO-CT has had an interactive session with Rep. Jim Himes. This year, because of the Pandemic, it had to be done on a Zoom session. The program started with a welcome by GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani who said that Rep. Himes is a great supporter of GOPIO and the Indian community.
In his opening remarks, GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, sought clarification from the Democratic Party Congressman on “US-India Relations in a Democrat Administration especially policy on India-China Border Clashes.”
Calling on both the counties to be “careful with each other” in their approach and not to escalate the situation between the Two Nuclear Nations, referring to the US efforts to engage both the nations, Rep. Himes said, “This is an important opportunity for both the nations to address” and resolve the border tensions. Referring to Joe Biden as someone, whose strength is in Foreign Policy, the Congressman said, “The Joe Biden Administration will continue to offer mediation” between India and China.
Dr. Thomas Abraham initiated the discussion by raising the “H1 and H4 visa issues and what you expect in Biden Administration, if he wins the election, especially for the need to clear the backlogs of pending Immigration numbers for our community.” Responding to these concerns that were shared in a series of questions by GOPIO leaders on the Immigration issues, Dr. Abraham described the immigration policy of the Trump administration and the current situation as “messy”, Rep. Himes referred to the numerous Presidential orders being challenged in Courts. He hoped that there will be a change, which will be a reversal in status and get back to a comprehensive immigration reform. Referring to the Trump policy on denying work visas to spouses of H1B visa holders, Rep. Himes asked, “What good is it that if the spouses of the H1B visa holders cannot work under H4 visas?’
On the Green Card back log, Rep. Himes said, attracting skilled laborers is “central to our economy.” On a question, regarding the discussions about the Country-based quota not being used and unused visas could be used to allow Green Cards to other qualified individuals who are caught in the backlog for Green Card approval, Rep. Himes was unsure if the Biden Administration will embrace the policy.
Rep. Himes called for new dialogue between the two major parties to create a comprehensive new immigration policy that addresses the needs of the nation and millions who are awaiting a solution to the challenges. Rep. Himes wanted the nation to reflect and clarify the values behind creating a comprehensive immigration policy. While criticizing the Trump regime’s policy of favoring the people of higher income groups while offering visas, Rep. Himes said, “The Biden Administration will be more open to immigration” which is more compassionate and understanding of the needs of the nation and those of the immigrants.
On another question regarding voter suppression, Rep. Himes said, “If you want to vote in the state of Connecticut, there is no requirement for Voter ID.” He urged all sections of the society to work to ensuring “peaceful elections.” Pointing to a state law, that does not allow political activity within 75 feet of any polling place, he said, “Any propaganda will be a violation and will be prosecuted.” Describing the residents of CT as law abiding citizens, Rep. Himes said, “I do not anticipate any significant problems in CT. However, the situation is different in other states like Wisconsin.”
Rep. Himes serves on the US Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, a forum in which Members of Congress can address the issues central to our relationship with this important South Asian nation. By promoting dialogue on issues of interest to the Indian-American community, the Caucus strives to strengthen bilateral relations between the United States and India, promote trade with India, enhance economic development in India and the United States, increase anti-terrorism cooperation.
On the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, Rep. Himes said, “the impact of Covid has been contained in my constituency by good behavior of all of my constituents. The numbers in the state of CT are good, because we did not get into politics. Hope the situation continues to improve.” Referring to the Congressional Bill passed that had offered substantial relief for small businesses, Congressman Himes pointed to the challenges in passing a new Covid Bill that the Congress Bill offers $2.2 Trillion, Rep. Himes criticized the Republican-led Senate and President Trump. “Once again, President Trump has called off negotiations, which is not good for the President and for the nation.
Rep. Himes also sought suggestions from GOPIO-CT participants on Kashmir issue. On that, Dr. Abraham categorically said that people in India whole heartedly supported the steps taken by Modi administration to make Kashmir people full participants like other citizens of India and complimented Prime Minister Modi for the new initiatives in education and development of Kashmir.
GOPIO-CT Trustee Joseph Simon concluded the meeting by thanking the organizers and Congressman Jim Himes for being gracious with his time and addressing the many issues of interest to the Indian community so directly and openly.
Over the last 14 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.