FIIDS holds advocacy day to discuss immigration reforms, US-India ties

A prominent Indian diaspora-centric advocacy body has held an advocacy day on Capitol Hill to discuss matters like immigration reforms, the US-India ties and Quad partnerships.

The event was held on Thursday, with scores of its volunteers from across the country having meetings and engagements with nearly 100 elected officials and their staffers.

"It has been a historic day. Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) hosted almost 140 delegates from 22 different states in the USA. We had 83 appointments the whole day," Khanderao Kand, president and chief of policies and strategy, FIIDS, told PTI in an interview.

In all these meetings, the FIIDS delegations raised five different issues with lawmakers and their staffers. They discussed the US-India relations, particularly technology exports-related aspects and defence partnership.

"We also discussed the Quad expanding partnerships, both trade and security in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly on the background of China's dominance in the global supply chain and competitive overtures around that," he said.

"We also discussed the impact of the seven per cent countrywide Green Card quota limit, which has created a huge backlog on Indian Americans or rather the H-1B holders getting green cards. We discussed religious phobia and finally critical minerals, particularly in the long-term interest of the United States," Kand said.

A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently. The per-country caps are numerical limits on the issuance of green cards to individuals from certain countries.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Later at a reception held at the Capitol Visitors Center, eminent lawmakers, government officials and heads of top business advocacy groups pledged their support to the India-US relationship and addressed the issues raised by FIIDS members.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director S Panchanathan said NSF is partnering with Indian science and technology platforms.

Congressman Ro Khanna said the US-India relationship is very strong.

"We need India as an ally when it comes to making sure that China doesn't have hegemony in the region and our trade creates jobs in America. Unlike the Chinese trade deficit, our trade with India actually creates jobs here," he said.

Congressman Rich McCormick congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being elected for a historic third consecutive term.

"It's exciting to see democracy going the way it is over there and to see the strength of the nation that's going to be strategically important to us in the future," he said.

US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) President and CEO Mukesh Aghi said he strongly feels that the relationship between India and the US is going to grow economically, geographically and emotionally.

Following the elections, the perception of India becoming less democratic or autocratic leadership just went away, he said.

US-India Business Council (USIBC) president Atul Keshap said that the private sector is the essential partner of the two governments in enhancing the cooperation as two great democracies and two high-trust societies.

"When the world develops the deep tech and the future tech of the 21st century, whether it's semiconductors or it's cybersecurity or it's artificial intelligence, or it's quantum computing or its defence platforms, outer space, vaccines that the United States and India and our great democratic allies and partners stand at the forefront. It is critically important," Keshap said.

The Deputy Indian Ambassador to the US Sripriya Ranganathan said the relationship now has come to a situation where the two nations rarely disagree. "I think that the insights, the interventions, the advocacy, and the shared presence of the Indian American community have a great deal to contribute," she said.

Indian American community leader Yogi Chug said that there was acknowledgement at the Capitol that the US-India relationship is a consequential partnership.

"We had a conversation about the idea of critical minerals, how important it is for America with China hegemony to recognize that allies such as India can forge this world pact on critical minerals," he said, adding that anti-Hindu hate crime, immigration reform were some other key areas of discussions.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said Prime Minister Modi coined the phrase that AI is "Amazing India." "I add another phrase: AI is Ascending Indefinitely. Amazing India Ascending Indefinitely. AI Square. You are the bridge between India and the United States. You are the ones making sure that this partnership goes to higher heights, becomes wider, becomes stronger, becomes deeper, cuts across all sectors, from security to commercial ties to people to people ties to everything in between," Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, said.


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