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Exclusive: Rep. Ami Bera on protecting Indian Americans who have legally immigrated

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Rep. Ami Bera

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — More than 200 Indian American candidates, elected officials, among those gathered including California Rep. Ami Bera in Washington DC 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 Representative Ami Bera for our public affairs program “The Public Interest,” edited for clarity.

Q: You are the senior member of the so-called ‘Samosa Caucus,’ as dubbed by your colleague Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, now that you have been elected three times to Congress, not to mention your recent primary victory. Thus, we’ve seen first-hand scores of political aspirants asking you for advice of how to get involved politically. What are you telling them?

A: My obligation is to help people that are coming into the United States. Our legacy is not what we do by ourselves but by those folks that help. I learned a lot running, and the first step is not to be afraid to put yourself out there, put your name on that ballot, and what we are talking about today is how this broader Indian American community can support candidates. That’s what impact is all about. And you’ve got great candidates that are running all across this country. I think over 60 running for federal office but also at state and local levels. So, it’s pretty remarkable. And if we want to have a seat at the table, if we want to talk about issues that are important to our community, you have to have that representation.

Q: When you first were in Congress, you had a Democratic administration, Barack Obama was President. Now President Trump has a different philosophy, I imagine, from the way you like to govern. What has it been like these past couple of years under the Trump Administration? What has your life been life, day to day?

A: Yeah, it’s been busier than ever, Representing my constituents for the Sacramento Community but also trying to help my Indian American community. I will tell you that we’re fighting them on some of these immigration measures. Let’s take DACA for an example. We’re all going to fight for the dreamers, but we also understand that there are a lot of Indian American kids that are going to be 19 and who are here with parents who came here legally. Those folks are also potentially going to get kicked out of the United States. We have to fight for them as well, and that’s why it is important to have representation at the table.

Q: We just had a primary election in the state of California, and to be honest, the turnout was pathetic, under 25%, something like 21%. Now, it’s tough to have a primary election in the middle of the summer- school’s out, people are having fun. I did vote. I think you probably voted too. (Ami Bera: I did). But, what, if anything, can we do to get more people to vote, not just the Indian American community, but overall. The voter turnout was really sad.

A: Well, so, democracy, your vote is your voice. And if you don’t vote, you lose your voice. I think we have to focus on 2018. So you want representation, and that first happens by casting your ballot. Now, in our district, we’ve historically been able to turn votes out. I think, our turnout will end up being around 50%, which is again pretty remarkable compared to where it was in southern California and in other places. And again a lot of that is just telling people to vote. I’ve been able to get elected and re-elected. We’ve never won on an election, but I think it is about voters getting out there and casting their ballot.

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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Deaths of Indian American family in Iowa ruled murder-suicide

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Iowa murder suicide

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (Diya TV) — Iowa police say the shooting deaths of an Indian American family in West Des Moines, Iowa was a murder-suicide. Police said autopsies determined 44-year-old Chandrasekhar Sunkara’s death was a suicide. And the deaths of his wife, 41-year-old Lavanya Sunkara, and their two boys, aged 15 and 10, were homicides.

Top diplomats from the U.S. and India are meeting later this month to continue trade negotiations.

India said this week they will increase tariffs on US exports effective immediately, impacting items like apples, almonds, lentils and several chemical products.

The tax has raised the ire of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who blamed the situation on President Trump. California almond exports to India are worth more than $650 million a year.

21-year-old Bishwajeet Kumar Jha, who authorities say was the head of a group of Indian college students who cheated more than 20 people out of nearly $1 million in a tech support telemarketing fraud scheme, received a five year sentence to prison in Rhode Island.

And we’ll introduce you to the pioneering broadcasters who called the NBA Finals in Punjabi for the very first time.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Indian American family of four killed at home in Iowa

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Iowa Family killed

DES MOINES (Diya TV) — Investigators in Des Moines, Iowa say the Sunkara family, an Indian American family of four, were found dead in their home over the weekend. All four had gunshot wounds. There is no suspect in custody.

The 5th International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated around the world this weekend. Thousands flocked to the Washington Monument in Washington DC, where yoga enthusiasts of all ages took part in the event, including representatives from the White House, US Department of State and the Ambassadors of Nepal, Mauritius and Myanmar.

The alums of the Indian Institutes of Technology gathered in Silicon Valley for their annual conference, featuring talks by Microsoft Chairman John Thompson and Bhavish Aggarwal, the CEO of Ola Cabs.

India is now 7-0 against Pakistan in Cricket World Cup games, after winning by 89 runs in a match interrupted by rain.

And we spoke to Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia after his team won their first NBA title. Nav told our Ravi Kapur exclusively he will part of the championship parade and even received a ring from the owner.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Modi, Jinping meet to deepen India & China ties

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India China ties

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to strengthen ties in a number of fields. Modi even tweeted about the meeting in Chinese.

Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal took to the pages of the New York Times in an opinion piece to disclose she once had an abortion. Jayapal said she’s speaking out now because of intensified efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Border Patrol agents believe the body of a child found near the Arizona-Mexico border is a 7 year old girl from India. Agents encountered two women from India who said they had become separated from a woman and two children hours earlier

And the Toronto Raptors became the first NBA team outside of the United States to win a championship, beating the two-time defending Champion Golden State Warriors on their home floor in the final game played at the fabled Oracle Arena 114-110. The game 6 victory was marred by another significant injury to a Warriors player. Klay Thompson tore his ACL and is expected to miss much of next season.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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