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Indian American Congressman Ami Bera meets Kamala Harris over India Covid crisis

Congressman Ami Bera, the longest-serving Indian-American in the Congress, met Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House here to discuss the COVID-19 crisis in India. 

“I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly with Vice President Harris about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India,” Bera said a day after he joined a May 11 Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) meeting with Harris at the White House. 

“During the meeting, I thanked the Biden administration for sending urgently needed resources to the Indian people, including funding, technical expertise, and vaccine doses,” he said. 

Bera said he also commended Vice President Harris for her leadership in helping mobilize the Indian-American diaspora to deliver assistance to family and friends in India. 

“I also shared my hope that the US will continue to be an active global leader in helping stop the pandemic in India and across the world. American leadership will be critical to saving lives and ending this pandemic once and for all,” he said. 

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Latest News USA

Indian-American lawmakers, groups welcome verdict in Floyd death case

Washington, DC: Several Indian-American lawmakers and groups have welcomed the decision of a federal grand jury in Minneapolis holding Derek Chauvin, a former police officer, guilty on all three counts in the death of African American George Floyd.

“Justice was served today, but convicting Derek Chauvin won’t fix the system that continues to terrorize and kill Black lives. It won’t bring back George Floyd,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said.

“Black lives matter—and we must keep fighting for them by passing the Justice in Policing Act and transforming policing,” Jayapal said.

Congressman Ro Khanna said, “This verdict brought accountability. I hope it will be the first of many. But it doesn‘t change the fact that George Floyd should still be alive today. We now must pass the Justice in Policing Act.”

“My heart remains with the Floyd family. His life mattered. Black lives matter,” said the lawmaker representing Silicon Valley in the US House of Representatives.

Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera tweeted: “Justice has been served.”

“Grateful for justice. My heart goes out to the Floyd family,” said Neera Tanden, president of Center for American Progress.

The South Asian Bar Association of North America applauded the jury verdict that found Chauvin guilty on all counts.

“While this verdict was a step in the right direction, it is only one step in a broader fight against the systemic racism within our country,” SABA said.

“Justice was served today, but justice must be served every day,” said Rippi Gill, president of SABA North America.

“We must not let our guard down, and we must continue to fight against the racism and violence plaguing our communities throughout the country,” he said. (PTI)

 

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India Latest News

200 Indian-origin people in top leadership positions in governments of 15 countries: Indiaspora report

Washington, DC: More than 200 Indian-origin people occupy leadership positions in as many as 15 countries, including the US and the UK, building a legacy for future generations, according to a first-of-its-kind list by a US-based organization working among the Indian diaspora.

The 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List, which was released on Monday, had drawn from government websites and other publicly-available resources to prepare the report to showcase the achievements of the community leaders across different sectors.

It said that more than 200 leaders of Indian heritage have ascended to the highest echelons of public service in 15 countries across the globe, with over 60 of them holding Cabinet positions.

“It is a huge source of pride to have the first woman and first person of color as the Vice President of the world’s oldest democracy be someone of Indian heritage. We wanted to use this seminal moment on Presidents’ Day to highlight a host of others in the diaspora who also are in public service,” said Indiaspora founder M R Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and investor.

He was referring to Kamala Harris, the first woman Vice President of the United States.

“These leaders are building a legacy for future generations, and one that extends beyond our community to all of the constituents and communities that they serve,” Rangaswami said in a statement.

The list also includes diplomats, legislators, heads of central banks and senior civil servants from countries with significant histories of diaspora migration, such as Australia, Canada, Singapore, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“It is an honou to be included on the 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List. As the longest-serving Indian-American member of Congress, I am proud to be a leader in the Indian-American community, which has become an integral part of American life and society,” said Congressman Ami Bera, Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia.

With more than 32 million people of Indian-origin or (PIOs) globally, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Indians are the largest diaspora population in the world.

The officials on the 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List collectively represent more than 587 million constituents, and their countries account for an estimated $ 28 trillion in GDP, demonstrating the impact these leaders are having globally, Indiaspora said in a statement.

“It truly is inspiring to note the remarkable contribution that government leaders of Indian heritage have made to advance the societies that they now represent.

“For a sizable segment of the population, it is government policy addressing social injustices that lead to a transformative path of sustainable socio-economic progress,” said Rosy Akbar, Fiji’s Minister of Education, Heritage, and Arts.

The list includes immigrants from India, as well as professionals born in countries such as Singapore, South Africa, England, Canada and the US.

“As a proud Indo-Canadian, it is an honor to be included in the 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List alongside an accomplished and diverse group of leaders from the India diaspora,” said Senator Ratna Omidvar.

“I am eternally proud of my Indian heritage but also being Canadian. Canada has given me its protection and its opportunities, and in return, I am committed to making it a better place so that it continues to be a land of protection and opportunity for future Canadians,” he said.

While some of the officials are part of their country’s first wave of immigration, arriving as refugees or for economic opportunities, others serving in their governments are part of subsequent waves of diaspora, who came for educational opportunities, or are of subsequent generations, Indiaspora said.

“It is inspiring to see the number of Indian diaspora who are entering the public arena,” said Indiaspora Board Member Arun Kumar, chairman and CEO at KPMG India, who served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration.

“Having had the opportunity to serve, I can speak to what a memorable and fulfilling experience it was. Above all, it was a meaningful way to give back. My hope is that this cohort of leaders will set an example for even more of the Indian diaspora to aspire to public service,” Kumar added.  

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Latest News USA

Indian American lawmakers condemn storming of US Capitol

All four Indian-American Democratic lawmakers — Dr Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — expressed disgust after they were forced to take shelter at safe places as thousands of angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol.

Lawmakers were evacuated to secure locations after protesters breached security and entered the Capitol building on Wednesday, where members of the Congress were going through the process of counting and certifying the Electoral College votes to affirm Joe Biden”s victory in the November 3 presidential election.

“Sheltering in Cannon (building),” Congressman Khanna tweeted.

Cannon building is one of the prominent buildings within the US Capitol that houses officers of the member of the US House of Representatives.

“Trump was rejected in courts by people his party appointed, rejected by states where his party was in power and now by his party’s Senate leader and Vice President. Democracy is still sacred for Americans. That spirit will overcome today’s violence. Prayers for the injured,” Khanna said.

Congresswoman Jayapal said that she was safe.

“I was one of a dozen representatives in the gallery above the House floor. We pulled out gas masks and had to get down on the ground. Capitol police barricaded the doors and had guns drawn. We were eventually told that we had to quickly exit,” said the first-ever Indian American woman elected to the US House of Representatives.

“I can’t contain my rage at Donald Trump and Republicans who invited, incited and fueled this terror. Our country and our democracy will have to recover from these deep wounds—and it won’t be easy. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and thoughts for our safety and for America,” she tweeted.

Congressman Bera, the senior-most member of the so-called Samosa Caucus, tweeted that he was safe.

“The storming of the US Capitol is dangerous and disgusting…,” he said.

Congressman Krishnamoorthi was also locked down when Trump supporters stormed the Congress.

He said that he “is in fight or flight” mode. The Indian-American Congressman blamed the speech of President Trump for the unprecedented breach of the US Capitol.

“Our country is better than this, our democracy is stronger than this, and we will move forward. But this is a dark day for our country,” he said. (PTI)

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Latest News USA

60 lawmakers urge Biden to extend work permits to H-4 visa holders

Washington, DCA group of 60 lawmakers have urged President-elect Joe Biden to revoke a Trump administration policy and extend the validity of work authorization documents for H4 visa holders, who are spouses of those possessing H-1B visas, with majority being highly-skilled Indian women.

An H-4 visa is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H1B visa holders, most of whom are Indian IT professionals.

It is normally issued to those who have already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status.

We respectfully request that the Department of Homeland Security publish a Federal Register notice on day one of your administration that would extend the validity period of all expired H4 EADs, the members of the US House of Representatives wrote to Biden in a letter on December 16.

Biden, a Democrat, is scheduled to be inaugurated as the 46th US President on January 20.

In 2015 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rule allowing certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally seek employment in the US, the letter said.

This rule presented an important step towards rectifying gender disparities in our immigration system, as around 95 per cent of H4 visa holders who have secured work authorizations are women, it added.

Soon after coming to power, the Republican Trump administration informed a US court that it plans to rescind such a rule.

Before the rule was granted, many women on H4 visas described depression and isolation in moving to a new country and not being allowed to work outside of the home. Unfortunately, these women are losing and will continue to lose their jobs until this is put right, disrupting the lives of their families and the functioning of employers in our districts, the letter said.

Among signatories to the letter are Indian-American congressmen Dr Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal. Other key signatories are congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman, Rashida Talib, Barbara Lee and Judy Chu.

In the letter to Biden, the lawmakers said that once an H-1B holder is sponsored for employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status (otherwise known as a Green Card), his or her H-4 visa-holding spouse may apply for work authorization.

This rule presented an important step towards rectifying gender disparities in our immigration system as around 95 per cent of H-4 visa holders who have secured work authorization are women, they wrote.

These women on H-4 visas work in a variety of fields like essential healthcare workers, including in research and development roles at pharmaceutical companies; these women play tremendously important roles as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter said.

We are confident that your incoming Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security will rectify the systemic processing issues that have been created by the Trump Administration, the lawmakers wrote.

As of December 2017, USCIS had approved 1,26,853 applications for employment authorization for H-4 visa holders. According to a 2018 report by Congressional Research Service (CRS), 93 per cent of approved applications for H-4 employment authorization were issued to individuals born in India, and five per cent were issued to individuals born in China.(PTI)

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Latest News USA

Congressman Ro Khanna named Democratic vice chair of Congressional India Caucus

Washington, DCIndian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents the Silicon Valley in the US House of Representatives, has been named as Democratic Vice Chair of the Congressional India Caucus.

The seat has been created for the first time since its formation in 1994.

Khanna, who was recently elected for a third consecutive term from the congressional district representing Silicon Valley, is being considered as a potential contender to fill the US Senate seat from California that will fall vacant in January after Kamala Harris is sworn in as the country’s vice president.

“I believe Ro Khanna would be an outstanding Democratic Vice Chair,” Congressman Brad Sherman, Democratic Co-Chair of the Caucus, said in an email to his Congressional colleagues on Wednesday.

Born in Philadelphia in 1976, Khanna is the youngest of the four Indian-American lawmakers in US House of Representatives. The other three being Dr Ami Bera, 55, who is the senior-most member of the so called ‘Samosa Caucus’, Raja Krishnamoorthi, 47, and Pramila Jayapal, 55.

Khanna’s father is a chemical engineer who graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the University of Michigan, and his mother is a former substitute school teacher.

Considered to be “dynamic” by his Congressional colleagues, Khanna is a strong supporter of India-US relationship. He previously served in the Obama Administration, as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of Commerce under from August 8, 2009, to August 2011.

First elected to the US Congress in 2016 by defeating incumbent Mike Honda, he has made a mark for himself within the Democratic Party, but also at the national stage on key issues ranging from foreign policy, national security, environment, commerce and manufacturing jobs.

He identifies himself as a progressive capitalist and was a national co-chair of Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign.

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Latest News USA

Congressman Ro Khanna named Democratic vice chair of Congressional India Caucus

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents the Silicon Valley in the US House of Representatives, has been named as Democratic Vice Chair of the Congressional India Caucus.

The seat has been created for the first time since its formation in 1994.

Khanna, who was recently elected for a third consecutive term from the congressional district representing Silicon Valley, is being considered as a potential contender to fill the US Senate seat from California that will fall vacant in January after Kamala Harris is sworn in as the country’s vice president.

“I believe Ro Khanna would be an outstanding Democratic Vice Chair,” Congressman Brad Sherman, Democratic Co-Chair of the Caucus, said in an email to his Congressional colleagues on Wednesday.

Born in Philadelphia in 1976, Khanna is the youngest of the four Indian-American lawmakers in US House of Representatives. The other three being Dr Ami Bera, 55, who is the senior-most member of the so called ‘Samosa Caucus’, Raja Krishnamoorthi, 47, and Pramila Jayapal, 55.

Khanna’s father is a chemical engineer who graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the University of Michigan, and his mother is a former substitute school teacher.

Considered to be “dynamic” by his Congressional colleagues, Khanna is a strong supporter of India-US relationship. He previously served in the Obama Administration, as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of Commerce under from August 8, 2009, to August 2011.

First elected to the US Congress in 2016 by defeating incumbent Mike Honda, he has made a mark for himself within the Democratic Party, but also at the national stage on key issues ranging from foreign policy, national security, environment, commerce and manufacturing jobs.

He identifies himself as a progressive capitalist and was a national co-chair of Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign.

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Latest News US Election Special

‘Samosa Caucus’ of Democratic Indian-American lawmakers wins big in US elections

In an impressive show, all the four Indian-American Democratic lawmakers — Dr Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — have been re-elected to the US House of Representatives.

The Indian-American community has emerged as a force to reckon with for the first time in the history of the US presidential election. Both the Democrat and the Republican campaigns had initiated several measures to woo the approximately 1.8 million members of the community who have emerged as a critical voting bloc in the battleground states of Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The so-called ‘Samosa caucus’, a termed coined by Krishnamoorthi for informal grouping of Indian-American lawmakers, might expand with at least one more as physician Dr Hiral Tipirneni was leading against Republican incumbent David Schweikert from the sixth Congressional district of Arizona when last reports came in.

If elected, Tipirneni, 52, would be the second ever Indian-American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives. Jayapal, 55, was the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives in 2016.

The ‘Samosa caucus’ currently comprises five Indian-American lawmakers, including the four members of the House of Representatives and Senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, 56.

Krishnamoorthi, 47, easily defeated Preston Nelson, 30, of the Libertarian Party. When last reports came in, he had accounted for nearly 71% of the total votes counted.

Ro Khanna, 44, defeated fellow Indian-American Ritesh Tandon, 48, of the Republican Party with a margin of more than 50 percentage points. This was his third-consecutive win from the 17th Congressional district of California.

Dr Ami Bera, 55, the senior most member of the ‘Samosa Caucus’, won the seventh Congressional District of California for the fifth consecutive term. When the last report came in, he had established an inaccessible lead by more than 25 percentage points against his Republican rival 65-year-old Buzz Patterson.

Sri Preston Kulkarni, 42, was giving a tough fight to GOP’s Troy Nehls, 52, from the 22nd Congressional District of Texas. He was trailing by five percentage points when reports last came in.

Republican Manga Anantatmula lost to Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly in the 11th Congressional District of Virginia. Republican Nisha Sharma from the Republican Party also lost her maiden Congressional attempt. She was defeated by incumbent Mark DeSaulnier from the Democratic Party by more than 50 percentage points. (PTI)

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Latest News USA

Hope Biden will end country cap for H-1B visas: Democrat Indian American lawmakers

Washington, DCIndian-origin lawmakers during a recent virtual summit expressed hope that a Biden administration would remove the country cap on legal permanent residency in the United States.

A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to the immigrants in the US that allows a non-US citizen to live and work permanently in America.

Indian IT and medical professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card for permanent legal residency.

Professionals from India with H-1B visas are facing a delay of decades to get their Green Card.

One of the original co-sponsors of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, Democratic Congressman from Illinois Raja Krishnamoorthi said that removing the per country cap from employment-based Green Cards would remove the Green Card backlog for Indian IT professionals, who are being brought here often to fill the shortages in the IT industry.

“I’m hopeful that under a Joe Biden administration, we’re finally going to be able to get this legislation through the Senate, and then signed into law and of course, as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package as a whole,” Krishnamoorthi said during a virtual panel discussion with three other Indian-origin lawmakers — Dr Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna — at the day-long IMPACT Summit.

The discussion was moderated by former US Ambassador to India Rich Verma.

Congresswoman Jayapal, who is vice chairman of the House Immigration subcommittee, said that they have been working on a number of immigration-related issues including making sure that the spouses of H-1B workers are able to work in the US.

It includes addressing undocumented workers, a number of whom are Indians. Referring to a recent report, she said that 6.5 per cent of Indian-Americans are living below poverty lines.

Probably for the first time, the four Indian-origin lawmakers, popular as Samosa Caucus, were having a virtual panel where congressman Khanna said that he really believes that the Indian-American community can “be decisive” in swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

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