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Indian-American lawmakers slam Republican Hindu Coalition for backing immigration ban

WASHINGTON: Indian-American lawmakers have slammed the US-based Republican Hindu Coalition for supporting President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, which they alleged takes the country backwards “towards dark times”.

“As the most senior Indian-American member of Congress, I believe that Donald Trump’s executive order does not reflect who we are as Americans,” Ami Bera, a three-time Congressman, said.

“The actions of the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) today do not reflect the breadth and diversity of the Indian-American community, or our diaspora,” he said in a rare criticism of an Indian-American organisation related to the Republican party.

Bera, along with three other Indian-American lawmakers, vented out his anger against the Coalition.

The Coalition has supported Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. “We applaud the Trump administration for taking this decisive move to protect our citizens from Islamic terror,” its chairman Shalabh Kumar said yesterday.

The executive order signed on Friday, indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the US, and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – for 90 days.

Bera said it was very difficult for people of Indian origin to immigrate to the US before 1965, “and this order takes us backwards towards that dark time.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said the Coalition does not represent them. “As Indian-Americans, we believe deeply in pluralism, in freedom of religion, in freedom of speech and in a democratic diverse society.”

“To them, I would say, shame. Shame for trying to divide the Indian-American community. As a Hindu, I can tell you that this group does not represent the much much larger Indian-American community that honour our birth countries commitment to religious freedom and democracy,” Jayapal said asserting that Indian-Americans “will not be bullied” by this president.

“I call on our communities to condemn and resist these executive orders,” Jayapal said.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi termed the executive order an assault on Constitution which “only serves to divide Americans, not unify them.” “It is no longer time to agonize but to organize. It is time to do everything we can to oppose this executive order,” he said.