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EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Rand Paul working with Republican Hindu Coalition to help those in green card limbo

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EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Rand Paul meets with members of the Republican Hindu Coalition in a private Newport Beach, CA reception. Left to right: Sudheer Chakka, Siva Moopanar, Senator Rand Paul, Kelley Paul, RHC Vice Chair Manasvi, Netra Chavan and Jyotsna Sharma
EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Rand Paul meets with members of the Republican Hindu Coalition in a private Newport Beach, CA reception. Left to right: Sudheer Chakka, Siva Moopanar, Senator Rand Paul, Kelley Paul, RHC Vice Chair Manasvi, Netra Chavan and Jyotsna Sharma

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (Diya TV) — In a town hall conference call coordinated by the Republican Hindu Coalition, and at a private reception in Newport Beach, California, U.S. Senator Rand Paul spoke at length about helping those impacted by U.S. immigration law, specifically as it relates to the burgeoning Indian-American community.

Diya TV was invited to exclusively report on this developing story. Paul, who hails from Bowling Green, Kentucky, told RHC supporters he lives in a neighborhood that is largely comprised of “Indian-American physicians who are [his] friends and neighbors.” Yet he was not aware, until overtures from the RHC, “of this problem of the children of people who came here legally being aged out as they get older while their parents are still waiting for their green cards.”

The Republican Hindu Coalition is using the moniker DALCA or Deferred Action for Legal Childhood Arrivals to refer to kids stuck in such situations, a reference that is sure to upset some of the 800,000 individuals who registered for DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that now could face deportation.

In September 2017, President Donald Trump announced he was ending the program, setting up a deadline for March 5, 2018 unless Congress passes new legislation for DACA recipients, that are often known as ‘Dreamers’ in reference to the proposed DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act.

With that deadline approaching quickly, DACA recipients are anxious about their future, wondering if they will be able to remain in the U.S. after their DACA status expires. A similar anxiety hovers over folks the RHC refers to as ‘DALCA kids’.

As rhetoric over the issue amplifies, there are few voices advocating for the more than 500,000 Indians in the U.S. who can be waiting for a green card for up to 12 years.

Senator Paul wants to be one of them, imploring RHC supporters “to be more involved” and “ to really inform your legislators.”

In early February, the RHC held a rally outside of the White House attended by a few hundred people to, in their words, ‘fix DALCA, end chain migration and reallocate to skilled based immigration to cut the GC [green card] backlog to two years.’

Republican Hindu Coalition immigration rally in Washington, DC on February 3, 2018.

Republican Hindu Coalition immigration rally in Washington, DC on February 3, 2018.

The Coalition, via their website, has begun to embark on a national campaign to spread awareness in the coming weeks for the plight of what they say are at least 200,000 kids in green card limbo.

The question that remains is whether folks on both sides of the aisle will put partisanship aside to help people, that by in large, are in a terrible position through no fault of their own.

Here are Sen. Rand Paul’s comments via the RHC conference call:

“I became aware of this issue more particularly as the Republican Hindu Coalition talked to me about the fact that there were children of legal immigrants who were waiting so long for their green cards that the children became adults and were, like the DACA kids, losing their status in the country. And the answer to me, I think, really is that we need to allow more people who have legal visas to get green cards.

So in the recent battle over immigration, I introduced two amendments. One was specifically to fix the DALCA problem — these are the dependents of legal folks who have come in to this country. And to fix that problem by actually getting rid of the per country limits for employment-based green cards and to phase this in over a few years.

We also introduced another amendment that would have doubled the employment-based visas. These are referred to as EB visas. EB-1 which are professors. EB-2 which is doctors and lawyers. EB-3 which is engineers and teachers. And EB-5 program which is also those who want to bring capital to this country to invest. I’m in favor of all these because I think that we need more legal immigration.

And what I’m worried about in the debate is that it’s all been focused mostly on those who broke the law to come here. And that we are not doing anything to fix the system for those who actually took the time to come legally, get visas approved, and that are waiting and waiting and waiting for green cards. And not enough of the debate has been focused on on those who actually tried to obey the law and use the system correctly.

So I think the debate is just beginning. And my advice to your Coalition is don’t see the current battle as the beginning and the end. See that you need to get involved, and get involved in a big way, because right now the debates is being dominated by the loudest voices. And the loudest voices are those who are marching on Washington, who have come here illegally.

And there’s not enough voices and the voices are not loud enough from those who came legally and want to enhance the system by having more merit-based employment visas. So I am very interested in the issue and want to be helpful with the issue. But I do say to those or that are on the phone call, you need to be more involved and you need to really inform your legislators.

Because I have talked to senators, other senators and other congressmen. Many of them were not aware that, in fact I was not aware, in the beginning of this problem with the children of people who came here legally being aged out as they get older while their parents are still waiting for their green cards. So I think there is a lot that can be done on the issue. And I’m glad to be part of any kind of Coalition that wants to fix it.”

When asked why reforming high-skilled immigration and clearing backlogs is not a priority, by RHC Vice Chair Manasvi, Sen. Paul commented:

“I think in some ways because the loudest voices have been those who are promoting sort of fixes for those who came here illegally. But I do think there is a great deal of sympathy when you mention that we need to fix this for those who have obeyed the laws, obeyed the system, come here legally. I think once you mention that to people, they are sympathetic.

I think also people in general, when people talk about merit-based immigration versus the diversity lottery, and having these country caps, I think the more people talk about it, they realize in order to be for merit-based immigration, you have to be for getting rid of these country caps because we have so many Indian-Americans who have come to this community who are, like you say, high skilled, with college degrees and advanced degrees. In my small community, just in Bowling Green, Kentucky, there are many Indian-American physicians who are my friends and neighbors.

And so, I think they add to the community and add to our country. And I think most people once they are aware of that, are sympathetic to trying to fix it. But all of the news print, all of the news media, all of it seems to be directed towards fixing it for people who came here illegally. And I’m not opposed to fixing it for for some of these DACA kids. But I think, at the same time, we should give equal consideration to the DALCA kids, the dependents of those who came here legally.”

When asked by Manasvi what his action plan to resolve this issue would be, Sen. Paul said:

“It’s a long discussion and I’ve been trying over a several year period. Not only do I talk to each of the Senators and Congressmen individually, our staff talks to them and we’ve been advocated for having more employment-based visas for quite awhile. In our bill to do employment-based visas, we doubled the number.

So currently, there’s 10,000 EB-1’s, 10,000 EB-2’s, 10,000 EB-3’s. So there’s about 140,000 of these and we want to double that to be 140,000 new employment-based visas. And so we keep advocating for this because I think it’s also the answer to take the pressure off of, the desire for our country to grow. I think with the recent tax cut, I think there’s going to be a lot of economic growth in our country. And everybody I talk to, successful business owners, says they need more skilled workers and not less.”

((UPDATE: The RHC contacted us after publication to clarify the amount of visas Sen. Paul was referencing. The RHC says there are 40,000 EB-1 visas, 40,000 EB-2 visas, 40,000 EB-3 visas, 10,000 EB-4 visas and 10,000 EB-5 visas, for a total of 140,000 visas — the number Sen. Paul mentioned during the call.))

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Exclusive: One on One with Sen. Kamala Harris at Impact Summit 2018

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Kamala Harris

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Earlier this month, more than 200 Indian American candidates, elected officials, among others gathered in Washington for the inaugural Impact Summit, an effort to build a long term political network for the diaspora. All five Indian American members of Congress spoke at this event that was sponsored in part by Diya TV. Below is a transcript of an interview conducted on site by Ravi Kapur with Democratic California Senator Kamala Harris for our public affairs program “The Public Interest,” edited for clarity.

Q: We just had the California primary and turnout was really low. Given the political environment that you see here in Washington, now in your role as a senator, do you feel that folks are just uninspired to come out to vote, no matter who the candidate is?

A: Actually, I don’t. I’ve been seeing a level of activeness and participation that actually gives me a lot of optimism about our future. I’ve been seeing young people, teenagers, middle school students who are coming out, who are thinking about issues, who are speaking about issues. You look at those kids from Parkland, Florida, high school students, and what that has excited around high school students around the country to speak up about issues like gun violence. You look at the dreamers and the DACA kids who are coming by thousands to the United States Capitol, walking the halls of Congress to speak about immigration policy. If you look at all the young people, in particular, who are coming out to talk about issues linked to disparities around race or economic disparities and inequalities.

I actually am very excited about what I have been seeing — a record number of women who are running for office, many whom have never run for office before. So I think there is something about this very difficult moment of time, which is where we are right now, where we have powerful voices that are sowing hate and division. The other side of that is activating a lot of people to say, ‘I’m not going to stand for it. I’m going to get out. I’m going to stand up. I’m going to stand up. I’m going to speak out.’ So I think it’s very exciting and the only thing I would ask everyone, and all of your viewers, is stay involved. Stay involved because your issues will not be heard if you don’t stay involved, if you don’t speak out. You can speak through your vote, you can speak through your voice, but get involved in elections, campaigns. Look up candidates, whoever speaks up to your values and your issues, but stay involved. That’s how democracy works. And we won’t be seen if we’re not heard.

Q: Speaking of involvement, you’re the first Indian American woman ever to hold a Senate seat. A lot of folks look to you for inspiration. What message do you impart to all these young folks who aspire to be where you are today?

A: That they just keep in their role of leadership, keep speaking about truths, speaking about truths, even if they are difficult to speak, even if they are difficult for people to hear because that’s how we cultivate trust. That’s how we actually forge ahead in terms of the kind of leadership we need. We need to speak difficult truths, whether it be about race, whether it be about income equality, whether it be about gender equality. Let’s speak the truth about the things we want to see happen, around the topic of immigration reform and to stay involved. It’s really important.

Q: It appears many Democrats and Republicans are not necessarily talking to each other, but rather over each other. How do we get more folks involved and engaged in politics so they are not talking over each other? Also, do you have a game plan for 2020? President Trump said he is running again and Democrats are still looking for that national leader fill the void.

A: Part of what we have to do is focus on 2018. That’s where I’m focused at the moment. I think we have to focus on 2018. The re-elections are coming soon, 152 days, I think, from today (June 7). And the decisions we make about who will be in these positions of progress, whether it be in the Senate or the House of Representatives, will be very important and pivotal to issues like what we are going to do around immigration for this country. So I really urge people to stay focused on 2018.

Watch all of the interviews from the Impact Summit on The Public Interest with Ravi Kapur, Sunday at 9 am & 5 pm local time, exclusively on Diya TV.

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tightens gun control standards

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Gov. Phil Murphy signing several gun-safety bills into law in Trenton yesterday. Photo: Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office

TRENTON, New Jersey — On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law six bills that will tighten gun control in New Jersey, arguably making the state strictest on gun laws, in the country. The governor’s office issued a statement saying, more than 2,000 shootings occur annually in New Jersey, with around 500 firearm-related deaths each year. Firearm-related violence costs the state’s economy approximately $1.2 billion annually, and directly costs taxpayers nearly $275 million.

“Today, I’m proud to sign this series of common-sense gun safety bills into law to protect our children and families from the reckless dangers of gun violence, something the federal government has failed to do on behalf of its residents,” said Governor Murphy. “By setting these higher standards for gun safety, New Jersey continues to bolster its reputation as a national leader on this critical social and public health issue.”

Following which, New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir Singh Grewal issued a statement warning ‘ghost gun’ manufacturers

The Clock Is Ticking

Ghost Gun Manufacturers: You have 15 days to stop marketing and selling these weapons into New Jersey. If you don't, we will come after you. The clock is ticking.

Posted by New Jersey Attorney General's Office on Wednesday, June 13, 2018

According to WABC-TV, New Jersey joins a list of states, including Florida and Vermont, that have enacted gun control legislation since the shooting, which set off a series of rallies across the country aimed at reducing gun violence through tighter laws.
Alfonso Calderon, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was on stage with Murphy, and both encouraged voters to elect candidates this fall who back “common sense” gun legislation. All U.S. House and one-third of the Senate seats will be on the ballot.

“The majority of America’s youth knows we need this change to survive in our own schools,” Calderon said.

The six measures will:

-Require mental health professionals to warn law enforcement if a patient threatens serious violence against themselves or others

-Allow for an extreme risk protective order if a court deems someone poses a significant danger to themselves or others. The temporary court order bars the subject from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition.

-Require background checks for private gun sales

-Lower the magazine capacity from 15 rounds to 10, with an exception for a popular .22-caliber rifle.

-Require residents to show a “justifiable need” to get a carry permit.

-Prohibit body-armor-penetrating ammunition.

While the legislation has earned the praise of gun control advocates, including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, who attended the bill-signing wearing bright-red T-shirts, it also has merited scorn from gun rights advocates who say the measure won’t increase safety.

“None of the bills signed today will make anyone safer,” said Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, said in a statement. He said lawmakers have limited residents’ ability to defend themselves while missing an opportunity to make schools safer and prevent those with mental health issues from acquiring firearms in the first place.

The group has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the limit of 10 rounds, claiming it would be ignored by “criminals and madmen.”

Hopewell Valley High School sophomores Ethan Block and Alex Franzino have been active in organizing gun control events in the region and attended the Wednesday event wearing orange shirts with “Students Demand Action” printed on them. They said they were encouraged to become active in the issue because of Parkland.

“Don’t be afraid to use your voice,” Franzino said.

Murphy, who succeeded term-limited Republican Chris Christie this year, campaigned on the promise to strengthen the state’s laws. Current state law bans assault weapons, limits magazine clip sizes and requires permits to carry a concealed weapon.

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Indian Americans political aspirants & elected officials gather at first-ever Impact Summit

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Kamala Harris

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — More than 200 Indian Americans, who aspire to have their voices heard in American political discourse, gathered in the nation’s capitol for the first-ever Indian American Impact Summit. Featuring Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), among other elected officials and philanthropists, the summit was arranged to encourage more Indian-Americans to run for office.

“This historic summit is proof that the Indian American community has truly arrived on the political scene. Together, we can shape a future in which talented and patriotic Indian Americans are fully represented at every level of government, from City Hall to the White House,” said Impact co-founder Raj Goyle.

House Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA 17th district), Ami Bera (D-CA 7th district), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA 7th district) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL 8th district) all attended and gave speeches to inspire the next generation of Indian American candidates. Diya TV was a proud media partner for the event.

Gautam Raghavan, Executive Director of the Indian American Impact Project, said, “There’s a lot of enthusiasm and energy (because) for the first time a lot of Indian American prospective candidates are thinking to themselves, ‘This is something I can do.'”

Cody Booker

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks out to the Indian American community at the Indian American Impact Summit 2018.

Booker, although not Indian American, gave an opening speech emphasizing why Indian Americans should go into politics. “In every area, Indian-Americans have been punching above their weight, except for one and that has been in elected officials. And it’s time that Indian-Americans came forward and provide the leadership,” Booker told the crowd. “From tech to the arts to business, Indian-American dominance is helping America, but the one area that we have to lead in is civic space for policy where ideas are being shaped.”

He added, “we so urgently need Indian American leadership — not just because of the dynamism it has brought to other sectors of American society — but also because this is a time when the very idea of America is under assault. We have a time now where Indian American pride, where Indian American strength, where Indian American ideas are critically needed.”

Harris, the first Indian-American to serve in the U.S. Senate, said Indian Americans will have a great effect on the U.S. because of the inspiration they can derive from their ancestry. “I was trying to remember what some of the slogans were when my grandfather was fighting for India’s independence… I remembered ‘truth alone triumphs,” she said. “It is imperative that to be a leader right now means that we speak (the) truth.”

Harris went on to say, “I believe we are a great country. And part of what makes us who we are is that this country was founded on certain ideas, ideals that were present when we wrote the Constitution of the US: which is that we are all equals and should be treated that way. This is a moment in time that is requiring us to fight for those ideals.”

Fostering this network for Indian Americans to build their platform from is why Impact co-founder Deepak Raj got involved. “The energy, enthusiasm, and talent of our elected officials and candidates is truly inspiring. Impact is proud to stand with them (elected officials and candidates) — and we look forward to expanding their ranks at every level of elected office.”

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