Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has asked the Trump administration to take “decisive steps” to end bigotry and hate crimes towards Indian-Americans and other religious minorities in the country.
“There are various reasons (for increase in hate crimes), but one is certainly there’s been a rise in divisive rhetoric starting with the top,” Krishnamoorthi, the Indian-origin Congressman from Illinois said.
Krishnamoorthi, who has initiated steps to galvanise his Congressional colleagues on the issue, said there has been a number of issues taken on the immigration front, which really contributes to the divisive atmosphere in this country.
“Starting with the immigration executive order dated January 27, which targeted American legal permanent residents, also known as Green Card holders. But we’ve now seen a number of steps taken by the White House on a number of fronts, which have sown confusion, concern, and fear among Indian-Americans and others,” Krishnamoorthi told PTI.
The first-time Congressman said he has not seen any measures being taken by President Donald Trump.
“Not so far, but I’m heartened that at least Secretary (of Homeland Security John) Kelly was willing to meet with me and others to discuss this issue and to recognise that there has been an increase in hate crimes and that we need to do something about it,” he said.
“But now is the time to act. We can’t just have a nice talk. It’s time for the authorities at the very top of our government to take decisive steps to end the state of bigotry and prejudice that’s being directed toward Indian-Americans, Jews, Latinos, Muslims, and others because at the end of the day, we have to come together as a country to confront the various challenges that we have on the landscape, primarily economic,” Krishnamoorthi said.
One thing that the Trump administration can do is that they can make sure that there continues to be the registry of where are the attacks happening and against who, and those responsible for it are prosecuted.
“They’ve been dilly-dallying on this front in a number of cases,” he alleged.
“It’s very clear that some of these attacks were motivated by hate, and they should be prosecuted as such. Then, we need leaders to come and meet with the community and to show solidarity with them,” he said.
“We are all Americans, and regardless of what you think about his policies, George Bush, after the September 11 attacks, actually showed up in the different communities to allay concerns about different communities being singled out as targets of hatred. We need that same type of attention being given now,” he said.
“Then, word needs to go out into law enforcement that they need to act with even more purpose, and they need to do everything they can to stop these attacks,” he added.
Krishnamoorthi last week met with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
During the meeting, he brought up the concerns about the attacks on Indian-Americans, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and others.
“I basically got a commitment from him to work on this issue, and he also lamented the rise in White supremacist organisations,” he said.
“I then followed up with a letter to him basically urginghim to take action to follow up on his commitment. Then I’ve also asked him to come to Chicago and hold meetings with local concerned community leaders with regard to this issue. He said that he was interested, but we’re following up on that,” he added.
“This follows a number of other actions taken by our office including calling for investigative hearings of my Oversight Committee, writing to Department of Justice (DOJ) including Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking them to investigate, and various other statements and letters that we’ve sent,” Krishnamoorthi said.
“In addition, I’ve met with local leaders in the community with regard to this issue, and we are holding town halls and other meetings to basically bring attention to what’s happening. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that we address this rise in hate crimes and prejudice and bigotry in as diligent a manner as possible,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Having received feedback from across the country, Krishnamoorthi said Indian-Americans are very concerned, which is bordering on fear.
“I think that we have to do everything we can to allay their concerns, but more importantly, to take action, to make sure that we get to the bottom of what’s happening and prevent future attacks,” he said.