oe Biden (Left) and US President Donald Trump( Right). | Commons
Joe Biden (Left) and US President Donald Trump (Right). | Wikipedia Commons
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A recent survey of Asian-American voters showed strong support among Indian-origin voters for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Of those surveyed, 65 per cent Indian-Americans said that they would vote for Biden over Donald Trump. Moreover, 72 per cent of Indian-Americans said they had a favourable opinion of Biden, while only 36 per cent viewed President Trump positively. What do these numbers tell us about the voting preferences of Indian-Americans?

There are about 1.8 million India-Americans who are eligible to vote in the US, and many are located in hotly contested states such as Texas, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. While the survey results are heartening for the Democratic Party, they also show a slight downward trend in Indian-American support for Democratic candidates. In 2016, post-election surveys had shown that 84 per cent of Indian-origin residents voted for Hillary Clinton. In 2012, about 84 per cent had voted for Barack Obama.

These shifts are partly driven by Donald Trump’s assiduous attempts to court the Indian vote. Last year, at the ‘Howdy Modi!’ rally in Houston, he declared that he is proud to have Indian immigrants “as Americans”. Then came his visit to India in February 2020, which was full of grand optics. President Trump also sends periodic tweets and statements about his love for India, and his campaign emphasises Trump’s supposed rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But, if we unpack actual policy priorities and decisions, we find that the Trump administration has come up short. A Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration has the experience and the vision to do better.


Also read: Trump or Biden — who is better for India? The answer lies in a 14-year-old dream


Indian-Americans will be better off under Biden-Harris

Let us consider the domestic issues that are of high priority to Indian-Americans: jobs and healthcare. This is consistent with the concerns of American voters in general. Due to the pandemic, unemployment in the US has reached historic rates. It is clear that the economy cannot do well without tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the Trump administration has simply abdicated responsibility, with catastrophic results for the country. It is no surprise, then, that a majority of Indian-Americans trust a Biden-led administration to deliver on an actual plan to address both crises.

Immigration policy is of significant interest to Indian-Americans. Here, too, Indians place more trust in a Biden-Harris administration – with good reason. There are almost four million persons of Indian origin in the United States. Many Indians came to the US relatively recently — over 60 per cent having arrived after 2000. Work, education and family sponsorships have been the main pathways for Indian immigrants. President Trump claims to favour high-skill immigration. During the Republican Party convention in August, for example, Donald Trump hosted a citizenship oath-taking ceremony at the White House, which included a person of Indian origin. At the same Convention, former Trump cabinet member, Nikki Haley, discussed her Indian-American roots.

But, the Trump administration’s actual policies have been anything but welcoming. His policies are marked by racist hostility towards non-White immigrants. The last few years have been marked by abrupt and unclear rule changes, which creates hardships for Indian students, workers, and families. If President Trump is re-elected, the immigration hardliners in his administration will have a mandate to clamp down on legal immigration pathways. Immigration policy has long been a complex and difficult issue in the US. Still, during its tenure, the Obama-Biden administration was able to introduce streamlined reforms. And, the Biden-Harris team offers a platform that will be both systematic and rational towards aspiring immigrants, while also being fair to American workers.


Also read: Why Democrats hold a secret edge if US presidential election is too close to call


Trump doesn’t benefit India either

What of India-US relations? Even though Trump touts his friendship with PM Modi, his administration has delivered precious little of value to India. He abdicated the US’ stabilising role in Asia-Pacific, which emboldened China. India has not been served well by this. In contrast, Biden has proposed a comprehensive and strategic plan to limit China’s influence; and India will be an important ally in those efforts.

Trade has always been a tricky issue for the two countries; but, during the Obama-Biden years, the two countries made progress on numerous trade issues, including intellectual property, technology and investment. In contrast, Trump has railed about the US-India trade deficit and imposed tariffs on Indian products. He promised a trade deal with India; but none has materialised. Even more worryingly, the Trump administration has squandered the work that the Obama-Biden administration did on clean energy and climate change cooperation with India. The Biden-Harris agenda has promised a renewed focus on clean energy, which should also boost cooperation between the two countries.

Finally, representation matters. The Biden team reflects the diversity of the United States, including Indian-Americans. Kamala Harris’ mother, Dr. Shyamalan Gopalan, was an early immigrant to the US, and her journey serves as an inspiration to others. Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former US Surgeon-General, is Biden’s adviser on coronavirus and has spoken movingly about Biden’s meeting with his grandmother. Overall, the Biden platform is committed to more inclusivity. In contrast, the Trump administration is conspicuously and almost exclusively White.

As the Indian-American community has grown in the US in size and influence, it has come to assert a range of political viewpoints. The shifts in the AAPI survey reflect these changes, as do the efforts of both campaigns to reach out to Indian voters. President Trump, ever the salesman, is great at holding massive rallies, sending out tweets, and staging politically convenient photo-ops. His actions however, demonstrate that he does not, in fact, welcome Indians to the “great American family”. A Biden-Harris administration offers actual policy solutions to the issues that matter to Indian-Americans.

The author is a Professor of Political Science at Western Washington University, US. She has published and spoken extensively on diaspora issues, including the Trump administration’s immigration policy towards Indians. Her book, Indian Immigrant Women and Work: The American Experience, was published in 2016.  Her twitter handle is @Bee_the_Wonk. Views are personal.

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10 Comments Share Your Views

10 COMMENTS

  1. This news is fake and funded by Democrats, racist liberals,Pakistan and CCP to brainwash the masses.

    You say print invests in quality content but this nothing more than my morning p00.

    Biden won’t solve immigration issue. He only cares to help Latinos immigrate illegally and give citizenship to DACA. Trump is looking to bring a new merit based immigration system like Canada. Though he had cracked down on immigration but only h1b abusers are suffering. Deserving ones still get in.

    Trump 2020

  2. What so ever the survey reveals , it does not matter . But one thing must be kept in mind , that the right at the time , world is going through several changes . Different blocks of the nations are emerging , so it is very much important for Americans & rest of the world to keep continuity of governance , in ,US . Indeed , a second term in office for , President Trump is needed to handle the global changes in a good way , along his experienced team and allies. Ofcourse , US , is still a Super Power , with all its capacity & capabilities.

  3. Ms. Biswas is clearly a Democrat leaning academic – just like most of her peers in USA and India.
    However, Mr. Biden must take care to not side with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. If he does that again, he may not be forgiven by the Indian diaspora in the US.
    The Labour lost its captive Indian votebank in UK simply because of its idiotic stance on Kashmir led by Mr. Corbyn – a buffoon of the first order.

  4. I am amazed in the echo chamber bubble these so called experts live in. The print will be better served with a broader perspective about the situation in the USA. The writer criticizes Trump’s handling of Covid. But, she fails to mention that when he closed down flights from China in January, he was called xenophobic. He was verbally castrated when he closed down flights to Europe, while all along the democratic party leaders like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris said the country does not need to be shut down.

    The maximum number of deaths are in nursing homes of democratic ruled states like NY,NJ etc who formulated their own strategy instead of following Trump’s guidelines and this authot wants us to believe that it is Trump’s fault.

    Regarding the polls. Do you remember 2016? Enough said.

    When the print allows such fake news like this article to be dissimenated, we know what the editors think. You fight about sincerity and honesty and pride yourself in providing accurate news. But, that is hollow when you look within

  5. from 92% to now 65%

    by Nov I believe it will be less than 50%

    in seeing states, even a percentage will be a game-changer.

    looking more like a Ak or Bar Trump Sarkaar

  6. The leftists at The Print have an abysmal record of backing the wrong horse.
    They are backing Mr. Biden which means Mr. Trump will most likely win.

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