- With the large influence that Hindus have on this election, the right choice must be made.
With the recent announcement that over 250 Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders had endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, many assume that most Indian Americans tend to lean left, yet the truth is that a stronghold of President Trump is Hindu Americans.
DNC Chair Tom Perez recently stated that “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the electorate and mobilizing AAPIs will be decisive in delivering Democratic victories across the country.” This need to draw more Asian Americans to the Democratic Party couldn’t be more urgent as many Hindus who have previously voted Democrat are now shifting their support to the Trump candidacy.
On July 20, over 100,000 Indian Americans reportedly tuned in to watch a virtual Trump rally and support his reelection bid. Organizations like Hindus4Trump and Americans4Hindus are drawing South Asian American Hindus towards the Trump campaign. With Trump’s vocal support of Indian Prime Minister Modi, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, many BJP supporters flock to the 45th POTUS. Many Hindu Americans cite Trump’s opposition to China as a reason for their support, as India and China continue to face off at their border. Though the number of Hindus who support Trump seems to be growing, this group is not a reflection of the majority of Indians in the United States.
For most Indian Americans, the notion of supporting Trump is appalling. Since he was elected, hate crimes against South Asians have drastically increased, making South Asian Americans fear for their lives. A notable incident occurred on Feb. 22, 2017, when Adam Purinton, shot two Indian men, Alok Madasani and Srinivas Kuchibhotla, while they were dining at a Kansas restaurant, killing Kuchibhotla. Before opening fire, Purinton yelled racial slurs at Madasani and Kuchibhotla, leading to him being escorted from the building by restaurant staff. While grieving the death of her husband, Kuchubhotla’s widow also faced deportation as her visa was tied to her husband’s, highlighting another issue faced by Indian Americans under this administration, immigration.
On June 22, Trump signed an executive order suspending H-1B and other visas until the end of 2020, as well as extending the green card ban he enacted in April through the end of the year. With 75 percent of these H-1B visas going to Indians every year, South Asians are the hardest hit by the order. These visas bring in skilled immigrant workers, and with more than 17 million jobs lost during the pandemic, these workers are needed to help the economy recover.
In contrast to President Trump, Joe Biden has outlined steps and policies that he will implement to actively support the Asian American community. From ensuring that resources, health care, and government services are available to those with limited English proficiency to prioritizing the prosecution of hate crimes, Biden’s campaign has listened to input from the South Asian community and taken action.
During his time as vice president, “Anti-Hindu” and “Anti-Sikh” were added to the Department of Justice’s hate crime reporting categories. In terms of immigration, Biden plans to reform the temporary visa system and provide a path to citizenship for all immigrants. As the election approaches, it is more important than ever that Hindu Americans consider which presidential candidate will truly keep them safe and allow them to prosper in this country as the influence of Asian American voters continues to grow.
Ishani Peddi is a rising senior at Starr’s Mill High School in Peachtree City, Georgia. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to Georgia last year. She has been writing as long as she can remember and published a fictional work in middle school. A passionate poet, who has won numerous literary competitions, Ishani is involved in various clubs and organizations within her school and community. She is the Communications Director for the Georgia High School Democrats, the Vice President of the Starr’s Mill High School Young Democrats, a Civil Air Patrol Cadet, and an AAPIs for Biden Intern, to name a few.