WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several hundred Indians — the majority of them highly-skilled workers, with their children and spouses in tow — under the auspices of the Republican Hindu Coalition, last week held a rally in front of the White House, strongly declaring their support for President Trump’s immigration proposal to implement ‘merit-based’ immigration and eliminate ‘chain immigration’ which progressives believe is a derogatory term for the family reunification provisions of the current Immigration Act.
The rally participants at the February 3 event, who came from across the country, also called on the White House to end the per-country quota on green cards to help expedite the permanent residence applications of highly-skilled Indians caught up in the decades-long backlogs for green card approvals.
They raised slogans that said “We Love Trump”, “Trump Loves Hindus”, “Trump is not a Racist”, “Trump bringing Ramrajya,” “End Chain Migration’, “End Chain Reallocate to Skilled”, “End Country Limit: Bring the Best and the Brightest.”
The participants also marched back and forth with slogans that also showed their disdain for DACA and called on the White House to consider the plight of children of H-1B skilled workers and those caught up in green card backlogs, who could be subject to deportation since their parents green card approvals were in limbo because of the massive backlogs.
“No DACA without DALCA” the rally participants chanted, adding an L to the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and referring to the plight of Indian children whom they dubbed as DALCA—Deferred Action for Legal Childhood Arrivals.
In this regard, additional slogans raised, called for “End Visa Lottery”, “DACA Fix: Purple Cards, No Citizenship, Fee to build the Wall”, “Don’t Forget Legal Childhood Arrivals”, “DALCA kids deserve better”, “Cut Green card Backlog”, and “DACA broke the law”, “DALCA obeyed the Law.”
Krishna Bansal, National Policy and Political Director of the RHC, founded and chaired by Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, an erstwhile Trump surrogate and a major fund-raiser for the Trump campaign, said, “President Trump has talked about high skilled backlogs.”
“In the entire immigration debate so far, this is the first time the issue of clearing the green card Backlog for high skilled professionals have been taken up. All this is because of efforts of Republican Hindu Coalition,” he said.
Bansal argued, “Besides 700,000 DACA kids, there are 200,000 DALCA kids, children of legal immigrants-in-line from India, who have never broken the law, but who simply age out at 21 and have to go back, because their parents have a 60 year wait to get their green card after it is approved.”
He noted that “there are at least six bills in Congress in addition to the directive by the White House dealing with these immigration issues” and claimed, “the Republican Hindu Coalition is in touch and closely coordinating with all the major players involved, from the White House to the House and the Senate.”
Bansal told the rally participants, “"We are looking strictly for a merit-based immigration. That will bring prosperity and fast economic growth of the US.”
And, he reiterated, "We are with President Trump for taking initiative towards a merit-based immigration system.”
Trump, in his first State of the Union address on January 30, said, "It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system, one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”
Anil Sharma, another member of the organizing team for the rally, said, “The Hindu and Indian community has some anxiety related to immigration issues,” and predicted, “This event will help to alleviate their anxieties and give them back the confidence.”
Another RHC team member, Souptik Mukherjee, said, “For high skilled professional with advanced degrees the green card wait seems to be endless. Any initiative to move towards a merit based immigration system is highly laudable”.
Bansal said, by holding this rally, “We have once again demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that Hindu Americans under the leadership provided by RHC, have come to love this businessman turned politician (Trump) who is bold, speaks the truth and is a man of action.”
He said, “It was quite evident from this rally that Hindus totally debunk the mainstream narrative of Trump being a racist. RHC believes that President Trump would be remembered as a historical, and one of the best presidents of the country.
Bansal said, “The rally was sponsored by the Kumar family of Chicago” with Shalli Kumar at the helm and with his son and god-daughter, “Vikram Aditya Kumar and his sister Manasvi Kumar, who is also a super model and a renowned actress.”
He said that in meetings with White House officials and Congressional leaders in the House and Senate, “The RHC made its position amply clear on the DACA-fix issue. First of all, the appropriate acronym of DACA should be DAICA--Illegal Childhood arrivals.”
Bansal said, “RHC declared at the rally that it has full sympathy of DAICA kids, but there should be compassion with justice. DAICA kids want security. They want the threat of deportation, a sword hanging on their necks, removed.”
“It is RHC’s belief from its deep connections in the Hispanic community that DAICA would gladly pay $2500 per year for 10 years in exchange for the removal of the sword and that would pay for the (Trump’s Border)Wall,” he claimed.
Bansal said, “RHC made it amply clear that legislators must do what is ethically and morally right, issue green cards to DALCA kids. They have no problem paying the fee as DAICA kids would. Whereas DAICA broke the law, DALCA did not, that is why RHC proposed that DAICA gets work permits that is Purple Cards, whereas DALCA kids get Green cards.”
In one of the most emotional speeches at the rally, Akshita Ramesh, 13, a student of Ronald Regan Middle School in Virginia, spoke of what a tremendous strain the green card backlogs have been on highly-skilled parents who had come to the U.S. seeking a better life and were now caught in a decades-long limbo and how their children, now aware of the situation, found it emotionally draining.
Ramesh, who said, she was one-and-a-half years fold when she came to the U.S. with her father Ramesh Ramathan, who was an information technology professional on a H-1B visa, said, “ The wait expectancy for a green card for a high skilled immigrant from India tends to be somewhat from 12 Years to 70 plus years, when most of the world can get their green card in less than two years.”
She said legal H-4 visa dreamers like her, considering the current green card backlog for Indians, could end up aging out at age 21 and not receiving permanent resident because it is unlikely their parents would receive a green card for the next few decades.
Ramesh said, "I have always known I was born in India, and that I was on H-4 Visa with my dad having an approved petition to apply for green card, but I didn’t know about everything to the full extent. I didn’t know that being on a H-4 could mean that it will be much harder for colleges to accept me, no matter how good my grades are.”
"I didn't know that having a H-4 until 21 would mean possibly getting pretty much kicked out of the US, the only home I’ve ever known, the land that I felt all the happiness of achievement, and the burning anger of disappointment.”
Ramesh said that all of her dreams could be shattered “just because I was born in a different country that I barely even lived in? Don’t you think that’s unfair?"
"It sounds scary when I think the day I would turn 21, I would be made to feel a bit like an outcast, or a misfit in the country that I grew up in, how would you feel if you were the only one kid in an area who will be stamped as an alien, a foreigner when you turn 21, even though you’ve lived in the country your whole life?" she added.
Ramesh urged “all lawmakers and the President to hear me and support us in every way you can to solve the backlogs as soon as possible, and guarantee that this problem is solved once and for all, and no single ambitious kid and parent will have to go through the same scenario as me.”