Kamala Harris Invokes Indian Heritage in Response to Trump’s Immigration PlanTop Stories

May 17, 2019 15:14
Kamala Harris Invokes Indian Heritage in Response to Trump’s Immigration Plan

(Image source from: National Review)

The first Indian origin Senator Kamala Harris criticized President Donald Trump's merit-based immigration plan saying it was "short-sighted" and invoked her unique background as a Democratic candidate for the White House in 2020.

Trump on Thursday proposed an immigration plan that would prioritize high-skilled workers over those who already have relatives in the country when determining who receives green cards.

The daughter of an Indian immigrant, Harris, Senator from California, criticized the proposal, which Democratic leaders have vowed to fight, saying that Americans routinely celebrate a "unified culture" and the United States Constitution guarantees equality for all people.

"I found the announcement today to be short-sighted," said the 54-year-old California Democrat, slamming the Trump plan before an Asian American audience in Las Vegas.

On the plan's intention to award immigrants certain points based on education or skills, Harris said, "We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants."

"The beauty of the tradition of our country has been to say, when you walk through the door, you are equal. We spoke those words in 1776, 'we are all equal' and should be treated that way. Not, oh well, if you come from this place, you might only have a certain number of points, and if you come from that place you might have a different number of points." Asians have historically immigrated as family units, Harris pointed out.

The first South Asian-American United States senator in history, Kamala, whose mother is Indian and her father is Jamaican Harris said that breaking barriers was more than about personal achievement as she eyed becoming the first woman commander-in-chief. "It's about making a statement about who can do what and redefining images about who can do what and how they do it," she said.

Trump and others have "perverted" the issue of immigration, Harris added, as she echoed her call for a pathway to citizenship. She noted how as California attorney general she had alerted county sheriffs that they were not required to comply with detainer requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a lighthearted moment, an audience member asked Harris if she would commit to wearing a traditional Indian garment to her inauguration, known as a sari. "Let's first win," Harris said, smiling. "My mother raised us with a very strong appreciation for our cultural background and pride. Celebrations that we all participate in regardless of how our last name is spelled. It's the beauty of who we are as a nation."

Harris on every occasion includes stories about how her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, impacted every aspect of her life. And while she has spoken about visits to India during her book tour, Harris on the trail has leaned far more into the African American identity her mother raised her to embrace.

By Sowmya Sangam

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immigration  kamala harris  donald trump