Donald Trump’s criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Pakistani American parents of the United States Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in action in Iraq, has raised red flags in the South Asian community. Trump stated that Mrs. Khan was not able to speak at the Democratic National Convention, insinuating because she was a Muslim. Like many of you, I found Trump’s response to be vile and disrespectful. Trump’s remark about the Khan family demonstrates he is insensitive to the South Asian community. This presidential election is crucial time for South Asians and I encourage you to vote.
Although numerous voters say the presidential election is a choice between the lesser of two evils, the choice for South Asians is clear if we weigh the candidates’ immigration policies. Hillary Clinton’s policies are non-discriminatory, practical and will provide opportunities for immigrants and for America that thrives when immigrants are welcomed.
Donald Trump, in contrast, proposes to ban Muslims from the U.S., at least temporarily. Hillary Clinton has dismissed that idea as un-American. In fact, according to her website, she will continue the J-1 visa exchange visitor program, increase H1-B visa holders in the STEM field, allow fee waivers to defray the cost of the naturalization process, and provide supplementary educational support during the complex and tedious naturalization application process.
Trump’s policy on barring Muslims is not only discriminatory but also unconstitutional. His policy assumes every Muslim is a threat to national security. This is simply not true. The Pew Research Center finds roughly 1.6 billion people practice the religionof Islam. Yet, “extremist” Muslims make-up only.00625% percent of all Muslims.
Let’s take a look at the constitutionality of the ban. I echo Khizr Khan’s sentiment to Trump: “Have you ever read the U.S. Constitution?”. According to Richard Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan, banning one religion is unconstitutional under the U.S. Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment’s doctrine of freedom of religion. Also, there is no due process involved which is unconstitutional under the Fifth and Fourteen Amendments.
Another concerning matter is the H1-B and J-1 visa policies. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton affirmed the J-1 visa policy which is the exchange visitor program. Under this program, many of the best and the brightest international students come on J-1 visa including the Fulbright Scholars. This visa program enhances international diplomacy and helps spread democratic ideas back to the student’s home country. Trump on the other hand wants to scrap the J-1 visa work requirement or/and end the J-1 visa exchange program.
On H-1B policy, Hillary Clinton intends to raise the cap on H1-B visa holders. Many of our South Asian population gain vast opportunities to flourish under the H1-B visa. Raising the cap is pivotal in the STEM industries due to the shortages in the field. To further validate the H-1B visa, the late Steve Jobs CEO of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook, are both advocates in expanding the cap.
In terms of the naturalization process, Hillary Clinton wants to promote visa holders to become U.S. citizens by expanding the fee waivers to minimize the cost of naturalization. Furthermore, her immigration policies provide educational assistance during the naturalization application process. Through these policies, she acknowledges the “American dream” to become a U.S. citizen because America represents freedom and the social mobility to climb the ladder. Trump on the other hand does not grasp this concept. Michelle Obama said at the Democratic National Convention “don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great”. As South Asian immigrants and the children of South Asian immigrants, we know America is great. We don’t take freedom for granted. There is no question the Khan family fervently values this belief.
Overall, Hillary Clinton’s immigration policies are not discriminatory. It is logical and practical. It follows the basic American principles of diversity, unity, and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We must stand with Khizr and Ghazala Khan in defending their religion, their son’s honor, and freedom. Many of South Asians that emigrated to the U.S. and the children of South Asian immigrants deeply cherish the basic freedom given to us by the U.S. Constitution. Hillary stands with the South Asian community. I am with her. I urge you to be with her and vote for her. We are stronger together.
(The views expressed are author’s own. The author, a graduate of Columbia University, currently works as an educator in New York City)