Immigration NRI Politics
Photo Credit: Pramila Jayapal/ Facebook
Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, during her recent appearance on C-Span’s Washington Journal, was confronted by an angry immigrant hater who went on a rant about how undocumented immigrants are reaping government benefits and stealing American jobs.
The self-identified Republican ‘John’ from Sebring was furious about undocumented immigrants who he called “illegal aliens”, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program (DACA), which permitted undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to live, study and work in the United States.
After John spoke, Jayapal, who is the US Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district, slightly shook her head with disagreement. She later sat expressionless as he went on.
“It costs $530 billion for the benefits they get,” said John, Washington Post reported. He burst out a moment later, adding, “They took my grandkids’ jobs. They took my kids’ jobs, running ’em out of business.”
Talking about Dreamers, the young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, John said: “They need to be deported, just like their parents, and it is terrible what these people are doing to this country.”
For Jayapal, the criticism was not just about a policy issue she is passionate about. It was also about something personal, as she migrated to the United States at the age of 16 to pursue studies at the Georgetown University. Even though she was never undocumented herself, she had to wait for more than 17 years, till she married an American citizen, to get US citizenship.
Jayapal handled John’s rant in a measured and compassionate manner. “It sounds like you are in a lot of economic pain,” she replied, adding that the economic condition he is facing now is not due to immigrant policies, but is a result of unfair business practices.
“The people you should blame are the big corporations that are not paying their fair share of taxes, and creating jobs that don’t pay as well, and don’t allow somebody to work 40 hours a week and actually support their families,” added the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the Congress.
According to Jayapal, immigrants contribute more than they take and offered to send John studies on this matter.
“The majority of Americans, I believe, think immigration is good for the country and that people like me have helped build the country. It’s always easier to blame, but immigrants are not to blame for the country’s economic woes,” concluded Jayapal.
Who is Pramila Jayapal?
Jayapal currently serves as the US Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district. Before entering politics, Jayapal, fought as an activist for the rights of immigrants. In last November, in the midst of the anti-immigrant sentiment that gained momentum during the presidential campaign, she emerged as the first Indian American woman to be elected to the Congress.
The 51-year-old politician was born in Chennai, and grew up in Indonesia and Singapore. After getting a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, she pursued MBA from the Northwestern University.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Jayapal founded a non-profit organization named One America, which declared Washington state “a hate free zone”. As a part of the campaign, she lobbied on behalf of immigrants for a peaceful nation, and in 2013, she was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change”.