Tag Archives: Congress

Rishi Kumar Recruits Student Interns for 2022 Election Campaign

The summer days go by slowly? Well, why don’t you join a summer internship program and find a fabulous leadership opportunity right where you live? You may even be teamed up with your schoolmates.

Get involved in a high-energy campaign by joining the Rishi Kumar for Congress Fellowship program. Submit your application today at RishiKumar.com/Fellowship to be invited to an interview.

With this internship, you will discover a unique empowerment opportunity: You will find plenty of opportunities to be promoted to a Team Lead, Associate Manager, Manager, Sr. Manager, Associate Director, and Director positions.  In the summer of 2020, this program was led by 14 directors, and 45 managers leading specific functional roles, mentoring, and leading interns from 29 states.  The Kumar for Congress team drove an unprecedented engagement with our neighbors, the likes of which our district had never seen before: 100,000 doors, a million phone calls made, called 86,000 seniors offering them help with groceries/medications, and the videos went viral with 1.25 million views. In the November 2020 election, Rishi fell short by 45,000 votes in challenging a 30-year veteran incumbent but did get more votes than any other challenger in the last 30 years.

Rishi’s motivation: Rishi brings a fearless political agenda and is on a mission to change the broken Washington culture by bringing a new brand of people-driven, not lobbyist-driven politics. Watch Rishi’s personal story here. Rishi won with the most votes in Saratoga’s 60-year election history on a people-centric platform and a track record of “Getting Things Done”.  We have had only 2 competitive congressional races in Silicon Valley. This is a unique opportunity that is not to be missed.

Joining the Fellowship Program would allow you to:

An opportunity to lead teams, and discover invaluable management skills.
– Win MVP awards, get recognition awards
– Get a personal letter of recommendation at the end of the program upon request
– Earn valuable political and leadership experience while working alongside dozens of your peers
– Run for the California Democratic Party Executive Board or for a delegate seat.
– Earn passes to the California Democratic State Convention and even meet Presidential candidates

This internship is mirrored after the fellowship program of President Obama’s winning re-election run in 2012. Last summer the Kumar for Congress team had students participating from Stanford University, Georgetown University, University of California (Berkeley), UCLA, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, and many local high schools.

For further info, please contact the campaign team at campaign@rishi2020.com

In the Mighty Presence of Gandhi Ji

Every October 2nd, August 15th, January 26th, I fondly remember Gandhi Ji.

I was twelve – a young idealist with big dreams for my own life and a compelling desire to see India as a free and prosperous nation, free from the bondage of two hundred years of subjugation by the British.

Then in one of the rarest moments of my life, I had the good fortune to meet the most admired person in India, and the world –the Apostle of Peace and Non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi. The revered Father of India!

On massive, public grounds called the ‘Maidan’, a crowd of thousands had settled down on the ground.  All from far and near were there. I sat along with my sixty schoolmates and teachers, anxiously glancing in every direction to catch the first glimpse of this magnificent hero of mine. I was viewing over a sea of Muslim caps, Congress Party’s Nehru caps, turbans of every color, shape, and size. Occasionally, heads popped up here and there. A bunch of people would stand up abruptly, as if aware of an arrival.

Then, as if magically, there appeared a diminutive figure, sparsely clad in a white home-spun cotton ‘Khadi Dhoti’, tucked in between the legs, giving the appearance of a loincloth.  His narrow shoulders were wrapped around in a white, home-spun shawl.  I was immediately reminded of Gandhi’s image, sitting on the ground with folded legs, spinning cotton yarn at a Spinning Wheel.  He inspired Indians to be self-reliant, so as to be independent of the need to import cotton from the mills of Manchester, in Great Britain.  Gandhiji’s images had inspired me, as they had done millions of others.  I looked around at my friends.  We were all wearing white saris with blue borders – a fabric of five and a half yards of hand-spun cotton.  I was proud of myself.

As he got seated on a small, raised platform in the middle of the vast grounds, there was a hush, a deafening silence!  Could this be Gandhiji? The same towering figure, which had shaken the foundations of the British Empire?  Where was the augur who had incensed the Rulers to a fiery rage?  Could this slight, slender frame endure all the hardships of endless imprisonments – sleeping on cold, cemented floors; fasting endlessly to make a point, and subjugate the mighty master’s will?

Yet this was Mahatma Gandhi, whom I had heard again and again over the loudspeakers, who had endeared himself to me, as to millions of others!

He spoke. Stillness prevailed. From microphones all around, his every word rang loud and clear – entering my consciousness.  The echoes rolled from soul to soul.

As he spoke, I did not hear a lion’s roar.  Yet, this calmly persuasive, magnetic voice was energizing and compelling:

“Arise, my children, rise!

Rise to your soul’s call!

Rise in Freedom, every waking moment!

Remember. When India introduced Zero to the Science of Mathematics, the possibilities became infinite, unlimited, un-limiting!

One small zero – one individual at a time, small or big, can magnify the possibilities a thousand-fold. 

Each small voice, when joined by millions of your heroes, can reach across seven seas.

Do not underestimate the power of zero.  The power of even the smallest, the gentles of you.”

The crescendo of his tone and message rose from perceptibly calming to invigorating, to uplifting.  It was a magical moment; a mesmerizing experience! I was awed by the strength of Gandhiji’s convictions; the appeal of his persuasion across a wide spectrum of society.

“Follow you Dharma, your moral duty.

God’s truth demands Liberty and Justice for all.

We all are the children of one God.  We Hindus, and we Muslims invoke the one and the same God, whether we call Him Ram or we call Him Allah.

We, all Indians, deserve the right to be in charge of our own destiny.”

Gandhiji’s inspiring, invigorating word liberated the downcast souls and challenged the masses.  Even the faint-hearted, the indifferent felt an enthusiasm to take up the cause.

“There are times when you have to obey.

A call which is the highest of all, that is the voice of conscience.

Even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear,

And even more, separation from friends,

From family, from the state to which you may belong,

From all that you have held as dear as life itself.

For this obedience is the law of our being.”

A fine mix of elation and enthusiasm hung in the air.  I was witnessing a rare moment in eternity, a moment bigger than life, infinitely bigger than myself!

Gandhi Ji’s message rings just as true today.

On becoming citizens of the United States of America, by birth or adoption, we have pledged to uphold the principle of ‘Inalienable rights of Liberty, Equality, and Justice for All’. In expressing our voice by casting our vote to elect the President and Congress, we fulfill our civic duty. Follow our Dharma. Our decisions on societal issues have an impact on our lives. They give direction to the destiny of the Nation too.

Remember, your one powerful vote has the power to change the course of history! 

Usha Dhupa has lived extended periods of her life in Africa, India, England, and America.  Her rich experiences over eight decades give us a panoramic view of her life. Find the rest of this story in her recently published book ‘Child of Two Worlds‘.

Congress Asked to “Save” Census 2020

“A nightmare” is how Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), defines what the coronavirus pandemic has meant to the carefully planned efforts to make the nation’s Latino community count in the 2020 Census.

“We are moving forward with a new strategy and message, but deep down we know that there is no way to get to a full count without door-to-door visits” he said. “And at this point, we don’t know if the Census Bureau will be able to be on the street doing that follow-up work as planned in June (the original date would have been mid-May). I think by the end of this month the writing will be on the wall.”

NALEO and other groups continue to work to “turn the boat around” — to make the transition from hundreds of in-person events and follow-ups to paid and earned media to reach the so-called “hard-to-count” Latino community vulnerable to undercounts. But the confidence that the result will be reliable is fading with each passing day.

Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO

“Postponing the census until next year is an option that should be on the table,” Vargas added. “There is no reason to risk the health of the enumerators or the public.”  Congress will have to act because the statute sets two dates for delivering this data to Congress and the states. Brazil has already postponed its census.

Part of the nightmare for Vargas and other Latino activists is that so far the response from this population has been, on average, too low. While Latino communities tend to be undercounted in every census, this year the situation was already complicated. And then, the coronavirus hit.

The Trump administration’s handling of the last few years of preparation for the 10-year count mightily complicated things, including the decision to include a citizenship question that was finally rejected by the Supreme Court. The damage remains, however, as surveys continue to record that many Latinos still believe they will have to answer a citizenship question in the census.

Experts say this inhibits community members’ participation because they fear their data would be mishandled or used for immigration enforcement or other purposes.

Nationally, 48.6% of households already had answered the basic nine-question form by April 14, but the numbers were much lower, on average, in areas with high Latino populations, said Dorian Caal, a NALEO researcher, and data analyst.

“If we look at counties with more than 50% Latino population nationwide, the average response is only 23.1%,” he said. “For counties with 20% or more Latinos, the response is 29.8%. The truth is that the fewer Latinos in an area, the higher the response. In other words, the Latino population’s participation is still far below average.”

Leaders expect Latino participation to improve after more than 60 million paper questionnaires are sent in mid-April to people who have not responded online. Research indicates that the paper response is the one most favored by Latinos.

Some small cities with high Latino populations, particularly those with nearby rural areas populated by many farmworkers and migrants, have desperately low census response numbers. Two examples in Fresno County: The city of Huron has a 6.3% response and the city of San Joaquin 4.6%.

In California, whose response exceeds the national average, 49.2% of the population has filled out the census compared to the nation’s 48.6%. California has spent more than $180 million promoting the census to secure its piece of the pie. States like Texas, which spent no money on outreach, have seen a lower return — 44.2% so far.

The situation in tribal areas is even dimmer because of the difficulties of carrying out the work door-to-door at a time when many tribal nations are restricting access to their lands and have a negligible online response level.

Also having a negative effect is the suspension of a program called “update and leave” that reconfirms the addresses of highly mobile or remote households and where workers leave census packets in person, said Caal.

Although only 5% of households were on these “update and leave” lists, some states have higher percentages of such addresses. This is the case in New Mexico (37.7%) and Alaska (32.4%).

The fair distribution of more than $1.5 billion in federal spending and political representation in the nation over the next 10 years depends on an accurate census.

But the Census Bureau had no plans for carrying out a census during a pandemic. Just three days after this interview with Vargas, the unthinkable happened: Census Bureau leaders and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross asked Congress for a four-month delay in the statutory deadlines for delivering population data to the executive and legislative branches.

The next day, President Trump said that perhaps this delay was “not enough” and that perhaps “we don’t have to ask Congress because it is an act of God.”

For NALEO, however, while the delay is logical, it represents a serious risk to the quality of the resulting data. There is a danger that the final result will be “incomplete and inadequate,” according to a statement from the organization.

Vargas called on Congress to intensify its oversight role of the face-to-face follow-up phase of the census to maintain the process’s integrity.

“Congress has the authority and obligation to work with the Bureau to take the necessary steps to ensure an accurate census of all U.S. residents,” he said.

The request by census leaders and the Department of Commerce would extend data collection until October 31, 2020, with the numbers delivered to the president and Congress by April 30 and July 31, 2021, respectively. President Trump´s current term in office ends January 20, 2021.

But according to the experts, time is not on the side of the census. The data will become more and more imprecise the further the fieldwork moves away from the April 1 date, which is when the “picture” of the country is supposed to be taken. All answers must be related by law to who was residing at home, at school, or in the country on that day, and not after.

“The Constitution places the responsibility for the census in the hands of Congress,” according to a NALEO statement on April 14.  “In light of that obligation, it is time for Congress to step up to the plate and intensely monitor the 2020 Census if we are going to save it.“

Pilar Marrero is a contributor for Ethnic Media Services.

Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

Congressman Khanna Informs Local Media on What Keeps Congress Awake at Night

Congressman Ro Khanna spoke with the journalists from ethnic media on 12th November 2019. The teleconference, organized by Vandana Kumar, Publisher India Currents, came at a timely juncture when the nation and community is gearing up for the 2020 Presidential elections and it is time to take stock of what the nation has gained and lost in the last few years. Cyber security and Healthcare emerged as two issues that impact the community and are close to the heart of the Congress.

Cyber security, with routine data mining in the face of the fast changing social media landscape, was raised as a special concern. As Internet becomes a large part of our daily lives what is Congress doing in terms of legislation to address the issue of cyber crime? The Congressman addressed the press’ concerns and spoke of his request for the Internet Bill of Rights.

Congressman Ro Khanna (California’s 17th district) has introduced the Internet Bill of Rights, a proposal that includes the right to know about “all collection and uses of personal data by companies,” and to be notified “in a timely manner when a security breach or unauthorized access of personal data is discovered.” He aims to strengthen people’s ability to correct or delete personal data in a company’s control, and require companies to obtain consumer consent before collecting or sharing data with third parties. In the Congressman’s words the bill would require people to give their consent making it harder for the companies to collect data, a situation better than the one in China where people have very little protection.

The Congressman also felt blatant falsity should not be allowed. There is an obligation on the part of companies like Google and Facebook to check for an obvious disregard of the truth. If copyright violation can be checked then surely they can remove false information by following the same procedure. Perhaps, he said, we need an independent depoliticized government agency that can define the rules and draw the boundary of truth.

Though there is a desire to regulate social media before the 2020 election, what really keeps the Congress awake at night is the question of healthcare. Khanna is hoping the social media corporations will hopefully voluntarily self regulate if no legislation can be passed in time for the 2020 elections. However, Congress must and has been working hard on providing affordable healthcare.

It is the Congressman’s view that “more than almost anything else, our health has a tremendous impact on our day-to-day activities, state of mind, and overall well-being. Good health is foundational to everything else we do – our ability to take care of our families, be productive at work, and pursue our passions and hobbies”.

“We need basic care and low premiums,” said the Congressman.

Congressman Khanna would like the creation of a single-payer health care system, or Medicare for All and supports legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate for more reasonable drug prices. This type of legislation will allow Americans below the age of 65 to buy into Medicare. A result of this would be that community members could save money through reduced fees and premiums.

Congressman Khanna also supports legislation to allow for the importation of drugs from nations that we trust. He was an original co-sponsor of legislation to allow for the importation of Canadian drugs.

“We must increase coverage, support small businesses, expand primary care, and provide lower premiums. Medicare for All is the next step toward addressing the high costs and inequalities in the current health care system,” said Congressman Ro Khanna. The congressman feels the states should be empowered to create their own solution if the federal government is unable to establish a single-payer system. We must guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege.

The telebriefing on “The Role of Silicon Valley in the 2020 Elections”, moderated by Vandana Kumar (Publisher, India Currents), gave Congressman Ro Khanna (California’s 17th district) an opportunity to share his perspectives as a key lawmaker representing the Silicon Valley. Sponsored by India Currents in partnership with Ethnic Media Services, it is part of the ‘Conversations with Candidates’ series initiated by India Currents to expand ethnic media news access to elected officials and presidential candidates.

Ritu Marwah is a citizen who would like to pay closer attention to the political issues that are bound to impact her life. She understands that an informed citizen is a safer citizen.

In This High-Stakes Games, Each Vote is Crucial

Optimism and excitement fill the air when you speak with Beej Das. He has the chance to become the first Indian Congressman in history to fill any of the 174 seats spanning from Maine to Florida. Beej is hoping to serve all of the citizens within Massachusetts’ 3rd district as their member of the House of Representatives. A self-described progressive democrat, Beej has been aiming to work across the aisle with Republican citizens, donors, and lawmakers. He frames himself as a qualified candidate who is not an entrenched politician, as he looks to capitalize on the American people’s current wish for change in Washington.

Indian-Americans make up a sizable portion of Massachusetts’ 3rd District, and Indian-Americans around the country are in support of Beej Das’s campaign for the House of Representatives. But in a well functioning democracy, tactic support and monetary donations, while necessary, are not a substitute for actual voting and campaigning. Data shows that Indian-Americans vote at significantly lower rates than both other minority and majority groups.

The race for Massachusetts 3rd district is teeming with candidates, so many that they could play a 5 on 5 basketball game against each other and still each team would have a substitute on the bench. This means that the number of votes needed to win the primary on Tuesday is much smaller than it has been in past years for long time incumbent Tongas, who is retiring this year.

In other words if Indian American voters turn out in this election, as in many elections, they could be the deciding vote in who wins and who loses. However this is not likely to be the case on Tuesday, because of the simple fact that Indian Americans don’t vote, regardless of whether they have an Indian candidate or a candidate who is looking to directly address their needs and concerns.

Beej, the son of a longtime college professor and engineer, has worked to gain the support of educators, steel workers, and union workers, among others, in his district. He has focused on citizens across all segments: young and old, women and men, Republican and Democrat. Beej Das is hoping that his time spent engaging the Indian community during his campaign, and that their expressed support for him, will convert into votes for him on Tuesday. I am hoping that Indian-Americans who have fought so hard to become Americans will use the power granted to them by the constitution to voice who they want to represent them in Washington, regardless of who they vote for.

As campaigns analyze data to employ micro targeting and segmentation for the purposes of determining which voting demographic groups to engage with in order to gain the most votes, communities that do not vote will be A/B tested out of the system.

Spotlight issues important to the Indian American Community:

Education has always been a top priority issue for the Indian-American voter, especially when it comes to issues regarding creating more opportunities in higher learning or increasing the support for STEM and digital learning across all levels of education. Beej Das, the son of a career educator — his mother is a long time professor at UMass Lowell — has expressed his clear support for increased STEM funding, increased digital learning environments, and an increase in support for technical vocational schools. Additionally, he is working to bring down the cost of higher education and make the student loan system more transparent. Candidate Beej believes that higher education organizations have been mis-incentivized and are being run more like for-profit businesses than centers for educational enrichment. Part of his platform is based in altering this system and increasing incentives for the long-term development of professors and the protection of tenure.

Healthcare is an issue of growing importance to all Americans. It is universally understood that the goal of any legislation around healthcare is to reduce costs, increase access, and improve the quality of care. At-home elder care is also of growing importance to the Indian-American community, as people have to navigate the complicated regulations and structures around Medicare and Medicaid. Beej is hoping to alleviate some of these headaches and confusion by creating a clear standard for both of the aforementioned programs, and by putting forth reforms for a single payer system. He cites his support for the current healthcare bill in the senate proposed by Bernie Sanders, Bill S.1804.  Under candidate Beej Das’ proposal, “a federally funded base level of coverage would provide basic healthcare services, including annual physicals, contraceptive coverage, basic dental coverage, and critical care coverage.” Under his proposal those who wish to participate in the private market will be able to. More about his plan and policies on a wide variety of issues can be found on his website, https://www.dasforcongress.com/.

Importance of Indian Americans Voting:

Individuals who make the decision not to vote are making the decision not to be represented or taken seriously in a country and system that they fought so hard to become a part of. Failing to vote whether by mail-in ballot or by going to the polls is failing to help Indian Americans have a seat or voice at the most important table in the world. It is up to us as individuals to show our fellow-Americans that they can trust an Indian-American candidate to be a champion and a protector of the rights of all, regardless of race, wealth, or any other perceived limiting factor. The most important next step for the Indian community is to get out and vote regardless of the size/location of the election and regardless of which candidate people ultimately vote for, the most important thing is to do our duty as Americans and vote.

What can engaged American citizens do next?

Get involved now! Members of Massachusetts’ 3rd district should get out and vote. It is important to support one’s local candidate on Tuesday, the 3rd of September. This election is going to be decided by a few votes and many candidates have been working hard to turn out all the citizens within the district. Which means everybody is going to party, why should Indian Americans miss out! Additionally, many out of district Indian-Americans are joining Beej’s call bank to help support the candidate on Tuesday. Those who do not support Beej should also let people know, by getting out and voting for one of the other players in the game. It is up to us Americans around the country to get involved in campaigns in our own district and state, to use these campaigns as teaching tools for children, to get them internships with their congressman, and who knows — one may even find out that they or someone they know may be the perfect candidate to run for office.

Roshn Marwah is a student of politics. email rmarwah@purdue.edu. 



Senate Should Pass Proposed Legislation Protecting Religious Institutions

Washington, DC (April 19, 2018) — With hate crimes motivated by religious bias on the rise, according to the latest FBI statistics, it’s vital that Congress pass legislation making threats against religious institutions a Federal crime and imposing criminal penalties for causing damage or destruction to religious property.

As such, the Hindu American Foundation strongly urges the Senate to pass S. 994, the Protecting Religiously-Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017.

This legislation amends the existing Church Arson Prevention Act to cover bomb threats and other credible threats of violence to community religious institutions and community centers.

The House version of this legislation, HR 1730, was passed last December with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Expressing support for this legislation, HAF leaders say: “Religious communities are feeling increasingly insecure, given the recent uptick in hate motivated incidents and threats, including the recent spate of bomb threats and vandalism against Jewish community institutions and cemeteries, the burning of a mosque in Texas, the vandalism against two Hindu temples in Washington, and the hate crime shooting of Hindu immigrants, Srinivas Kuchibotla and Alok Madasani in Kansas.”

HAF has sent a letter urging passage of S. 994 to Sen. Charles Grassley, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, and to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member, Committee of the Judiciary. Read the full letter here.

The bill is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Sizing Up Immigrant Rights—Best Hope In Ballot Box

Less than two weeks after the Trump administration’s arbitrary deadline for Congress to take action on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) came and went with no solution, four veterans of the immigrant rights movement agreed that the outlook is bleak and the challenges are significant. The greatest hope lies in the voting booth –a shift of power out of Republican hands after the November elections – and the fact that those most impacted are taking action to protect themselves and inform others in their communities.

“It’s highly unlikely that Congress is going to pass any relief to benefit young people who make a huge contribution to the country they call home,” said Frank Sharry, Director of America’s Voice in Washington DC.   “Congress and the White House are no friends.”

Sharry was joined by attorney Joshua Rosenthal of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) deputy director Sally Kinoshita, and California Labor Federation field coordinator for southern California Hector Saldivar. The four spoke on a national telebriefing for ethnic media on March 13, hosted by ILRC’s Ready California.

Calling it a “war on immigrants,” Sharry said the  administration aims to “slash immigration by 50%, turbocharge deportations and construct a border wall as wasteful as it is insulting,” He counted five failed bipartisan efforts to provide the “bill of love” the president claimed to want while decreeing the end of DACA.

Democratic leadership, for its part, “despite a lot of effort, a lot of back and forth,” simply “couldn’t cut a deal with a leadership that doesn’t want to make a deal.”

“It’s a cynical, cruel strategy that the White House has pursued,” Sharry said. “Our best hope is that litigation will allow Dreamers to keep their status until hopefully we get a new Congress (in November’s elections).”  If power shifts out of Republican hands, there will be “a much better chance – although not a slam dunk – that legislation will be able to move forward.”

In the meantime, people are forced into “a horrible decision, to stay without papers or leave. We’re hoping to protect as many people as possible, buy them as much time as possible.”

NILC lawyer Rosenthal was also cautious in his assessment of efforts to challenge the Trump campaign through the courts.   “Courts are only able to go so far. They’re not going to be the final answer. We can’t ignore the role of Congress and the states in providing protection for immigrants.”

He cited as good news rulings in California and New York this year that found the Trump administration’s Sept. 5 announcement it would cut off DACA applications a month later to be “arbitrary and capricious.”   When the government tried to fast-track an appeal of those rulings to the Supreme Court, the justices refused to consider taking the case until they had gone through the remaining lower-level appeals courts, meaning that those eligible to renew their DACA status can continue to do so. If they do eventually review the case, their decision wouldn’t arrive until the spring of 2019.

Even then, he added, the injunction “is a limited, temporary form of relief.” It leaves out an important set of people, those unable to receive DACA status prior to the Trump administration’s decision to end the program.

Rosenthal recommended visiting informedimmigrant.com and its Spanish version, immigranteinformado.com, for lists of trustworthy service providers sorted by location for help in applying for DACA, and other information.

With almost a third of  the country’s undocumented immigrants, California has mounted the most comprehensive effort to resist the Trump administration’s “war on immigrants,” declaring itself a sanctuary state.

Sally Kinoshita of ILRC noted that there is no legal definition of the term “sanctuary.” But she cited several state measures that provide some resistance to federal efforts against immigrant communities.   These include SB 54, AB103 and AB540 which respectively restrict the ability of local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement); require the state attorney general to inspect detention facilities operated under contract with the federal government; and require judicial warrants in advance of detentions.

“These laws help to make clear that California is much safer for immigrants,” Kinoshita said.  Despite that, ICE recently launched a four-day campaign in Northern California in which 40% of the more than 200 arrested had no criminal records.  The raids aim to stoke public fear by portraying immigrants as a threat.

Kinoshita noted that the state has budgeted $45 million for immigration education, outreach and legal services.

The state’s Department of Social Services’ website lists 100 nonprofits that receive state funding and have either free or low cost services.  She recommended those in California refer to ready-california.org, with its lists of trusted service providers, trainings and events.

For those all-important screenings, Kinoshita recommended the website immi.org, which enables people to do them anonymously and online.

Hector Saldivar, who coordinates field activities for the California Labor Federation, spoke of increased fear and anxiety throughout immigrant communities. Himself a DACA recipient, he described his own family’s agonizing situation when his mother was recently denied re-entry into the country.

Like Kinoshita, Saldivar praised AB540 for its role in curtailing ICE’s ability to enter work places at will without a judicial warrant. On the ground, he said, forming a network of rapid response units has “provided solidarity and support” for workers facing ICE raids and “silent raids” – audits of a workplace’s I-9 forms that verify workers’ identity and employment authorization.

“This is the most crucial time to go out and show our support,” he said, “particularly for those whose status is secure.  We’re not going to allow them to be picked up or detained and then forgotten.”

Kinoshita agreed. “We can no longer ask those who are most vulnerable to take the most risk.  People who are eligible to naturalize need to do it now,” she said, even if only to vote.

Voting, she said, falls “on the less risky side” of actions people can take and “is so critical.”  “We need Congress to step up. We’re relying heavily on the judiciary and can’t take it for granted.”

Calling the current political climate “one of the darkest chapters in American history,” Frank Sharry said his biggest worry going forward is that “Republicans will maintain control of Congress.”

He’s hopeful, though, that immigration activists are going to prevail, not only in the courts and on the streets, but at the ballot box.

“We’re on the right side of history.”


Indian American Impact Fund Announces First 2018 Endorsements

The Indian American Impact Fund (“Impact Fund”) endorsed the following top-tier candidates in closely watched upcoming elections:
  • Maryland State Delegate Aruna Miller in her bid for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. An engineer by trade, Miller has served in the Maryland State House since 2010 where she has worked to invest in STEM education, streamline the regulatory process for small businesses, and bring 21st century jobs to Maryland. Miller has been endorsed by EMILY’s List, 314 Action, all four sitting Indian American members of the House of Representatives, and a number of state and local elected officials. If elected, Miller will be the second Indian American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
  • Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District. In 2016, Pureval won an upset victory, defeating a member of a powerful political family and claiming a seat that had been held by the other party for over 100 years. A former federal prosecutor and attorney for Procter & Gamble, Aftab has already delivered for his constituents by overhauling the Hamilton County Courts website, expanding its hours, opening a legal help center, and streamlining operations in order to return over $800,000 to the county’s general fund.
  • Ram Villivalam in his bid for Illinois 8th State Senate District. Villivalam is taking on an incumbent State Senator who was recently stripped of his leadership position and found to have violated the Ethics Act by the Illinois Inspector General. The 8th State Senate District has the highest percentage of Asian Americans in the state of Illinois. Villivalam has earned the endorsements of several Members Congress, including U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna as well as constituency groups such as the Sierra Club and Equality Illinois PAC. If elected, Villivalam would be the first Indian American ever elected to the Illinois state legislature.
“Not only do these individuals showcase the talent and patriotism of the Indian American community, they also represent the next generation of American political leadership,” said Deepak Raj, co-founder of Impact and chair of the Impact Fund. “Voters are hungry for fresh faces and new ideas. These candidates are well-positioned to be part of a new wave of national and state leaders who will help fight back against xenophobic rhetoric and regressive policies and fight for economic opportunity and a stronger, fairer economy.”
In addition, Impact Fund has endorsed for re-election all four Indian American Members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Ami Bera (CA-07), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), and Ro Khanna (CA-17).
Added Raj Goyle, co-founder of Impact and former member of the Kansas House of Representatives, “These four Members of Congress exemplify what it means to be an Indian American elected official. Not only have they fought tirelessly for their constituents, they have provided bold leadership for our entire country. They are proof that our work matters.”
A political action committee, Impact Fund works with experienced operatives, campaign strategists, and donors to endorse candidates based on their viability and commitment to advocating for the needs and values of the Indian American community. Impact Fund continues to track nearly 60 Indian Americans running for office in 2018, including over 20 first-time Congressional candidates, and will issue further endorsements in coming months.

Four Indian-Americans Sworn in to U.S. House of Representatives

In an historic day Tuesday, four Indian American members of the House of Representatives and the first Indian American Senator were sworn in to the 115th Congress of the United States, not only exceeding the number of Indian Americans ever elected to Congress, but quadrupling the community’s representation in the House. Rep. Ami Bera, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rep. Ro Khanna, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal were sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives, marking the first time in history more than one Indian American has served in Congress simultaneously. Sen. Kamala Harris Tuesday was the first Indian American sworn in to the Senate.

“This milestone is not only a proud moment for Indian Americans, it’s a proud moment for all Americans,” said Rep. Ami Bera of California’s 7th Congressional District. “As a nation of immigrants, the United States has greatly benefited from one generation after another of Indians and Indian Americans living here. I’m proud that Indian Americans now have the chance to contribute to our nation’s democratic fabric, and as someone who served for four years as the only Indian American in Congress, I’m honored to be joined by such qualified colleagues. With the door wide open, we hope to inspire the next generation to serve the country that we love.”

“The contributions and struggles of the Indian-American community are woven into our nation’s fabric. This is a watershed moment in our community’s history, representing all that is great about America,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington’s 7th Congressional District. “As the first Indian-American woman in the House of Representatives, I’m proud to serve with such capable colleagues, and I hope that our presence in Congress inspires the next generation of leaders.”

“I’m humbled and honored to join my friends in Congress in this historic moment. We know we stand on the shoulders of the Indian Americans who came before us. They established themselves in this country, gave back to their communities, and paved the way for us to follow,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi from the 8thCongressional District of Illinois. “The story of our community is unique but also similar to that of immigrants throughout American history. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make our contributions to that legacy, knowing others will follow.”

“It’s an extraordinary time to serve in Congress and I am proud to represent the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States,” said Rep. Ro Khanna of California’s 17th Congressional District. “As a son of immigrants and grandson to a freedom fighter during India’s independence movement, the protection of civil rights — no matter a person’s gender, race, or sexual orientation — will always be side-by-side with my commitment of economic fairness for all.”

Bera, who in the 114th Congress Co-Chaired the Caucus on India and Indian Americans, was the lone Indian American member in the 113th and 114th Congress. Prior to Bera, Dalip Singh Saund and Bobby Jindal served in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1957-1963 and 2005-2008, respectively.