Tag Archives: #kamalaharris

‘Don’t Turn Your Back on Immigrant Essential Workers’ Says Sen. Alex Padilla

When Sen. Alex Padilla took the California Senate seat left by V.P. Kamala Harris, the American immigrant story achieved two remarkable milestones.

Harris’ election to the vice presidency marked the unprecedented ascendancy of the first woman, Black and Asian, to a top political office, while Padilla became the first ever Latino to represent California in the United States senate.  After twenty seven years of fighting for immigrant rights, Alex Padilla is finally in a position to achieve the immigration reforms he has long pursued.

Senator Alex Padilla, CA

Padilla now chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee and will have jurisdiction over key immigration issues.

In his new role Padilla has promised to restore humanity, dignity and respect to the immigration process, a commitment reflected in the new title he’s given to the immigration subcommittee. It will now be known as the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety.

At an ethnic media briefing on April 16th, Padilla was proud to announce ‘The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act‘ – the first bill he has introduced as a United States Senator to honor “immigrant essential workers with action”.

Padilla’s focus on immigration reform begins with a proposal to deliver a pathway to citizenship to frontline workers – a ‘long-overdue recognition’ that ‘they have earned, and they deserve.’

He described the Bill as legislation that “urges a fair, secure, and accessible pathway to U.S. citizenship for over 5 million immigrant essential workers in critical infrastructure sectors such as health care, agriculture, construction, food, energy, emergency response, and care-giving.”

Padilla explained that during the COVID19 pandemic, frontline workers have been critical to keeping the country running and saving American lives, despite the risk of COVID19 to their health and that of their families. “They continue to show up to work every day.”

Essential workers put food on our tables, take care of our loved ones, clean the hospitals, restaurants, and offices. They ensure “that communities stay healthy, and that the economy continue to move,” added Padilla.

To him, COVID Relief not only means addressing the health impact of the pandemic. It also means rebuilding and stimulating an economic recovery that is “much more inclusive.”

Padilla’s home state of California has the highest concentration of immigrants (11 million) of any state in the US, but Padilla sees CA’s diversity “as a tremendous strength” and, that “the entire nation stands to benefit from thoughtful immigration reform.”

Immigration reform had stalled for decades, until the Trump administration declared war on immigrants with a slew of restrictive policies – setting limits on legal immigration and family-based immigration, building border walls, and enforcing child separation. Now immigration reform is also tasked with overturning the anti-immigration directives from the Trump era.

Padilla believes the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act will mark a ‘rather pivotal moment in the nation’s history’ when it’s in the best interest of the country to rebuild from the economic impact of the pandemic.

He reiterated his commitment to “bringing the urgency to immigration reform that this moment demands and millions of hard working immigrants have earned. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to restore dignity and humanity to our immigration policies and to respectfully uphold America’s legacy as a nation of immigrants.”

“The Bill will help boost our economic recovery and will benefit communities across the country.”

The vast majority of current and future workforce growth will be met by immigrants and the children of immigrants, said Padilla. He referred to a 2016 study by the Center for American Progress which found that undocumented workers contribute $4.7 trillion to the United States GDP, while undocumented immigrants contribute $11.7 billion in state and local taxes, and $12 billion in social security revenue every year.

Given their financial contributions,  “We can no longer ignore the 11 million plus people who have been living…’in the shadows’ in this country but working and paying taxes and contributing,” added Padilla.

They have earned their right to citizenship through their service and sacrifice, said Padilla, who together with Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), sent a letter to President Biden, urging the inclusion of the Bill in next infrastructure package.

Padilla was optimistic about helping President Biden move forward with a comprehensive immigration reform package to congress and ‘making significant progress.”

“It is personal for me,” he said, drawing parallels between his immigrant parents and the service of essential workers. “These workers – they remind me of my own parents who worked jobs considered ‘essential today.”

A ‘proud son of immigrants,’ Padilla grew up in the northeast San Fernando Valley, where his parents raised three children in whom they instilled strong values of service to others, in their pursuit of the American dream.

Padilla came to public service following the example of his Mexican immigrant parents.

“It was through their activism and community organizing that in many ways led me to public service”, he remarked, describing how his family worked with neighbors to curb violence in heir neighborhood.

Padilla paid tribute to his parents – for 40 years  his father worked as a short order cook and his mother cleaned houses. Their inspiring ‘journey and life experience’ is the backstory to Padilla’s fight for immigration rights from his time on Los Angeles City Council through to the California Senate and his  2015election  as secretary of state

“I firmly believe that we can’t simply rely on hardworking people to keep our nation afloat and keep our communities safe in times of  crisis and then turn our backs on them as soon as the pandemic is over. That would just be wrong.”

“I believe its time need to honor them and their work and their service with more than just our words”


Meera Kymal is the Contributing Editor at India Currents

Photo by Arron Choi on Unsplash

Letters to the Editor: 1/21/2021

Dear India Currents,

It was nice that Kamala Devi Harris swore on the Bible that belonged to Thurgood Marshall; a wonderful gesture, that speaks gallons for one side of her heritage that goes back to the Civil Rights movement and first steps towards desegregation in schooling practices. It is an area I myself teach on. But is Kamala-ji forgetting her South Asian heritage and spiritual prowess of that side of her tradition?  Her mother would have been proud if she also had her mother’s copy of the Bhagavad Gita or some holy text from their Tamil religious background next to the Holy Bible or on the table; or perhaps even her grandfather’s copy of Gandhi’s text on ’Truth is God (which is in his Autobiography: My Experiment with Truth’ as well. I believe Tulsi Gabbard – though not exactly of South Asian origin, but brought up as a Hindu – swore her oath, upon her entering the Congress, on the Bhagavad Gita (which edition or – if – translation I am not sure, as that too matters). It is time more attention was paid to the holy scriptures of other traditions represented in the US and increasingly in the administrative echelons.

 

Sincerely,

Purushottama


If you would like your opinion or perspective expressed at India Currents, do not hesitate to contact editor@indiacurrents.com with a submission or note. 

An Inauguration That Awoke My Ancestors

(Featured Image: Screenshot from CNBC coverage of the 2021 Inauguration)

I was pouring my coffee and almost spilled it when I heard Senator Amy Klobuchar’s words, “Our first African American, our first Asian American, our first woman Vice President, Kamala Harris” waft from my TV. As nonchalantly as I had been watching the inauguration, that moment – those words violently ran through my body, as though all my ancestors were asking me to listen. 

Kamala Devi Harris.

I was happy to hear of the Democratic shift in our Executive and Legislative branches of government and had voted accordingly, yet I remained skeptical. Skeptical if the words matched the vision. 

I accepted Vice President Kamala Harris as a person of color, but I’m not sure why, I hadn’t rationalized the identities she presented. Her Indian-American identity was one she had disengaged from early in her career, rightfully so, only to reach out conveniently when she needed votes. I still voted for her, advocated for her. Not because of her Indian heritage but because of her qualifications, her recent policies, her passion, her willingness to adapt, change, and grow. She was a powerhouse and deserved a position that matched her abilities. This was the narrative I spun for myself and others. 

But…it wasn’t until those words were uttered at the inauguration that I felt myself shudder. Shudder in disbelief. Shudder at the significance. Shudder at the thought of my connection to her.

A Lotus Goddess. 

And there she was…like Lakshmi Devi, ready to sit upon her throne. Her purple garments, vibrant like the purple lotus. Rooted in America in the most American way – a child of immigrants from two spaces and places. I could not will that away and neither could she. 

For so long, I denied seeing myself in Kamala in the interest of seeming impartial; to not be criticized for voting based on resemblance. I cannot deny it any longer. Our Vice President, Kamala Devi Harris is an Indian-American and I love her for it. I love myself for it. She will be a part of my history and I, hers.


Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.


 

Harris Makes History

“And one day, like a miracle, he’ll be gone.”

This was my favorite yard sign during the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election. During the darkest days marked by mounting COVID-19 deaths, and dog whistles to white supremacists from the White House, it seemed that day would never come.

Votes were cast before or on November 3, and for one, then two, then three days after, an anxious nation awaited the results, dispensing with sleep and most forms of healthy nourishment. We are dealing with the shock that half the nation actually voted to keep Donald Trump in office.

Four years later, this is another wake-up call for Democrats. Who are these people? Who is being left so far behind that they believe Donald Trump is their savior? There have been some analyses, talk of a shrinking middle class, traditionally the Democratic base. Some speculate that perhaps a shift of the population to the edges, those with either very low or very high incomes, have enabled Trump, The voting demographics will be revealing.

A few hours into the morning of Saturday, November 7, after hours of vote-counting, the Associated Press called the state of Nevada and Pennsylvania for Joe Biden. The news flashed across the television networks and Twitter in seconds, and a tidal wave of jubilation took over. My immediate reaction was visceral: I was in tears at what has been achieved with Harris’s victory.

My favorite headline, “Biden wins, Harris makes history” said it all. First woman VP. (Really, America? How shameful that it has taken this long.) First Black person. First Asian American, specifically, the first person of Indian descent.

Shyamala Gopalan came to the US at the age of 19, as I did, to pursue an education. We know the story, of how she got involved soon after in the civil rights movement, where she met Donald Harris who became her husband. How later, as a single mother, with a strong moral compass, she raised her daughters as Black girls and taught them that they could be anything, do anything. On November 7, Kamala’s sister, Maya Harris, tweeted this: 

Kamala Harris’s ascent to the most powerful position any woman has ever held in America is a striking reminder of “possibilities” – the single word Joe Biden chose to describe America in his acceptance speech. With a full heart, I told my daughter, “You can be President! You are like Kamala. Born in America to an Indian mother.” Never mind that she replied, with teen wisdom combined with sarcasm, “Why would I want to be President?!” In 2016, my daughter, then 11, and I watched in horror as state after state was called in favor of Donald Trump. That night, I went to bed at 9 PM, knowing where things were headed, and unable to bear it. I woke up to the horror. I remember the shock on my daughter’s face when I told her the results. To express my anger, frustration, and despair, I wrote this soon after that. And in 2020, a year of unending horrors, the smile on her face as she came out of her room, sleepy-eyed, smiling broadly, having seen the news on social media, made it seem that things would be all right again. We shared a joyous hug. Some captivating art has been making the rounds, inspired by this trail-blazing, accomplished, beautiful, formidable, competent leader.
Artist Bria Goeller worked with T-shirt company Good Trubble to create this image.
This is the one I like the best, by San Francisco artist Bria Goeller. Here, Madam Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris walks purposefully, and her shadow is the silhouette of 6-year-old Ruby Bridges when she became the first Black student to integrate an all-white school in newly-desegregated New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960.
The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell
The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell
Here is the original painting by Norman Rockwell of her walking escorted by four deputy US marshals. Notice the slur on the wall, the hurled fruit smashed on the ground. And in the midst of it, the little girl with her notebook and ruler. In the words of Martin Luther King, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
The relief many of us feel is palpable. Finally, there is hope. A burden has lifted.
 

And one day, like a miracle, he will be gone. Can’t wait.


Raji Pillai lives in the SF Bay Area, and writes at www.rajiwrites.com where this article was originally published. 

A Project to Activate Indian American Voices in Swing States

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the opinions of the organization. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of India Currents and India Currents does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Desis United, a crowd-sourced, volunteer-led initiative dedicated to defeating Donald Trump and housed under the New American Voices Political Action Committee, announced today that it has produced and purchased political advertising on Indian-American news and entertainment television networks and various print and digital media properties. The mission of Desis United is to activate the swing voter demographic of Indian Americans through advertising that educates and galvanizes them to use their political voices.  Desis United plans to use sharp, culturally relevant messaging to get Indian Americans to vote for the Biden/Harris ticket, which better reflects their interests and values, and elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.

Indian American registered voters now exceed 1.8 million nationally, with heavy concentrations of voters in battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas. In some of those states, the population of Indian Americans has increased significantly since 2016. Despite this, there has been a void in advertising in support of Democratic candidates, targeting this demographic.

Desis United seeks to address that void by targeting Indian American voters with television and digital advertising reminding voters of Trump’s dismal failures around COVID-19 and the economy, his hateful and corrupt behavior and character, his anti-immigrant policies (including restrictions on H1-B and student visas), and his inflammatory rhetoric that has led to heightened hate crimes and fear within the Indian American community.

Desis United has already begun to air its ads, “Whose Side Are You On,” and “Joe Biden and India: The Possibilities for our Future” produced by filmmaker and co-founder Ankush Jindal, on Willow TV during the network’s broadcast of Indian Premier League cricket matches that has heavy viewership in the Indian American diaspora. Desis United has also purchased television advertising on Sony TV’s properties, watched by tens of thousands of Indian Americans in the United States, as well as print ads in Indian American regional magazines in the swing states of Georgia and North Carolina that will run during the month of October.

While educating voters on Trump’s lies and disastrous policies, Desis United ads also demonstrate how Vice President Biden will be a responsible steward of the economy, foreign affairs, including the U.S. relationship with India, and national stability.  In addition, Desis United will educate Indian Americans about the life story of Senator Harris, who, if elected Vice President, will be the highest-ranking person of Indian origin ever to serve in this nation’s history.

 “We believe Desis United is a crucial and necessary intervention to support the effort to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” said Desis United co-founder Sundeep Dhiman. “We are excited to deliver persuasive and provocative messaging to members of our community in a way that has never been done before—and that was, unfortunately, not done four years ago. Indian Americans may well be critical swing voters, with hundreds of thousands of the community living in key battleground states. We must all come together to ensure that Trump is fully defeated. The future of our community’s and our nation’s health, safety, and well-being is at stake.”

A volunteer advisory board composed of lawyers, content creators, marketing professionals, and small business owners will guide Desis United, which will be housed within the New American Voices PAC. Desis United intends to raise additional funds to produce and place scaled advertising and free viral content through the November election.


For more information, and to watch the first set of advertisements developed by Desis United, please visit www.desisunited.org.

Is Kamala Harris a Good VP Pick?

Forum – A column where you get eyes on both sides of a hot button issue.

Is Kamala Harris a Good VP Pick? Yes!

Vice President Biden hit a home run with the brilliant selection of Senator Kamala Harris. I believe Kamala is uniquely positioned to be groomed to be the POTUS in the future. I say this not because she is half Indian but rather based on her experience, talent, and sheer grit to withstand attacks and get the job done. Kamala started her career as the District Attorney of SF, won statewide elections to be the Attorney General before becoming the 1st south Asian origin Senator, and only the 2nd black senator in history. Our nation will be well served having the centrist Senator Harris as our VP.

I love her tough law and order stance and how she has fought inequality all her adult life. Raised by a single south Indian mother, she has inculcated the strong moral ethics as her mother Shyamala Gopalan. Kamala Harris has said she has visited India many times and was very close to her grandparents and aunts. I resent the parochial argument made by some Indians that she does not wear her Indian origin on her sleeve. She rightfully acknowledges the other half of her heritage and above all is an American.

Her crowning achievement was when she fought with the banks, the administration, and even her fellow attorneys generals and achieved the $25 Billion mortgage settlement.  Her policy proposals on immigration, racial and LJBTQ  equality, health care, the environment, and economy are all indicative of a centrist Democratic leader.

While Biden should be applauded for picking Kamala Harris, he should solidify that with a pledge to serve only one term, given his advanced age, and turn over the reins to Kamala Harris in the 2024 election cycle. She could be the first woman to serve as our president.

Rameysh Ramdas is a resident of the SF Bay Area and has a keen interest in Politics and Current Events. 

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Is Kamala Harris a Good VP Pick? No!

Because of Donald Trump, We have lost 205,000 lives to COVID, lost the trust in our health agencies, lost our judiciary to the radical right-wing. Biden has to win in November to save our democracy.  In order for him to win the Vice Presidential Pick needs to have three essential characteristics. She has to be good at attacking Trump, needs to help win a state or help with the Hispanic voting block, and be an eloquent and strong proponent of his economic plan. 

While Mrs. Harris can be quite the attack dog she falls short in the other two areas.  It may be hard to believe after all the atrocities this thug president has meted out to the Hispanic community, but Biden is doing worse than Hillary with Hispanic voters in the crucial swing state of Florida. While Senator Kamala Harris has a terrific and inspiring personal story, it does not motivate Hispanics to the election booth as Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez could. The most important task facing a Biden administration, should they win, is to rebuild the economy. Amidst all the misinformation and lies about the economy spread by Trump, it would be very helpful to have someone with economic backing, like Senator Warren, to bring truth and gravitas to the situation. 

Senator Harris is a very ambitious and extremely smart person with amazing achievements and I hope to be proven wrong. Let’s hope that there is a new president elected and to borrow Speaker Pelosi’s words the parasite on our democracy currently in the white house is finally fumigated out.

Mani Subramani is a veteran of the semiconductor equipment industry. He enjoys following politics and economics.


Have ideas for what our Forum columnists should debate? Send a note to editor@indiacurrents.com

United We Stand: Civic Leadership Initiatives For Asian American Representation

On May 3, 2019 Civic Leadership USA (CLUSA)  and DingDing TV in partnership with India Currents held a Civic Leadership Forum aimed at addressing the need for Asian American to work together — the central question of the night being: What are the challenges facing Asian Americans? 

A special guest for the event was Congressman David Wu, the first Taiwanese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Dr. Xiaoyan Zhang Cheng, visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh, gave the keynote address. Aided with a PowerPoint presentation, he spoke of the unequal representation of Asian Americans in the political sphere. He focused on the fact that Asians tend to pursue high-paying jobs in STEM, thus paying disproportionately high tax dollars compared to other communities. The interesting thing, he noted, was that despite the larger portion of tax dollars paid, the number of Asian Americans holding public office was not proportional.

He also spoke of the pervasive nature of unequal Asian American representation in performing arts. However cinematic hits like Harold and Kumar and Crazy Rich Asians, proved to Hollywood that stories about Asians, featuring Asian actors and actresses in lead roles, can be enjoyed by all – AND make money!! 

“All boats are lifted when water rises,” was his message that resonated with all, highlighting the power of working together. 

This was followed by a panel discussion led by Joel Wong, former President of APAPA Greater Bay Area about the need for Asian communities to work together. The panel included Angelica Cortez (Investor Relations,  Silicon Valley Leadership Group), Somanjana Chatterjee (Diversity Ambassador, India Currents) , and Cathy Peng (CEO at ROCS Global), representing the Filipino, Indian, and Chinese communities respectively. The panelists spoke of of the need for Asians to work together and the successes that are possible with this combined effort.

The program concluded with a dance piece choreographed by Mythili Kumar, Artistic Director, Abhinaya Dance Company. The performance featured “I Have A Dream” — a piece in bharatanatyam (an Indian classical dance form) performed by Indian-American dancers, about the struggles within the African-American community, which was viewed predominantly by audience members who were Chinese-American. A beautiful example of working together!

Events like these are essential in educating a new generation of leaders drawn from within the Asian American community. True to Dr. Xiaoyan Zhang Cheng’s words, the face of genuine representation will be the election of an Asian American president in the near future.