My father was a naval architect in what was then West Germany, which is where I was born. But the West German immigration system was not hospitable to immigrants--not even to those with professional skills, such as my dad. So in 1971, he applied for a Green Card to immigrate to the United States. He arrived here a few months later, and was soon joined by my mother and me, then a toddler.
My dad initially lived with our relative Pushpa Singh, who had immigrated from India a few years before, along with her engineer husband. After she became a U.S. citizen, she sponsored a number of her brothers and sisters. Today, her siblings and their families are leading productive lives, with three of them running an institution for children with special needs.
If policies now favored by President Donald Trump had been in place, these members of my family would likely not be here. Neither would possibly the Indian Americans who serve him in top positions.
Indian Americans are probably the best-represented minority group in the Trump Administration. The most prominent is Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who is a full-fledged cabinet member as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Ajit Pai heads the Federal Communications Commission, where he's led the push to end net neutrality. Raj Shah, the principal deputy White House press secretary, has taken over some press conference duties from his boss, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Seema Verma is in charge of Medicare and Medicaid. And Dimple Shah is deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They are just the most high-profile names.
These individuals are in the United States because their parents moved here as professionals--one of the immigrant categories that Trump is attempting to restrict. This is just one of the ways his administration is turning up the heat on immigrants from India.
"Taken together, all of Trump's moves on immigration have echoes from America of the 1920s and [are] a sustained effort to take a meat cleaver to the world created by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965," states FirstPost, an Indian web publication.
Even though Trumps immigration policies are in a state of flux, the general thrust is perceptible.
"The problem with Trump," says Drew University Assistant Professor Sangay Mishra in an interview, "is that on different days, he utters very different things, but the baseline is to cut immigration across the board." Mishra is the author of Desis Divided: The...