Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives, has asserted she would strongly oppose any effort by President-elect Donald Trump to enforce his rhetoric against Muslims and threat to deport 11 million illegal immigrants. 51-year-old Jayapal said she is ready to stand up and fight for the rights of all Americans against attacks from the incoming Republican Congress and President.
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“If any part of Trump’s Presidency involves some of the things he talked about on his campaign, whether it’s punishing women for exercising their right to make their own decisions or subjecting Muslims to additional scrutiny and discrimination, or deporting 11 million immigrants, we are going to have to stand up and defend these rights and values that are so important to this country,” she said.
“We cannot step back, and I intend to fight for what I’ve been fighting for my whole life,” she told People magazine in an interview. After her election, Jayapal, who ran her elections on a progressive agenda and was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders in the run up to her campaign, described the Trump’s victory as shocking.
“We hold out the greatest hope for Donald Trump as the President, but we also prepare for what could well be a tax on some of the things that are so important and so dear to us,” Jayapal. “I do think there are some interesting things that we can work on together that he has said that he’s interested in. One of those things is an infrastructure package — he said that he’s open to that — investing in real jobs and real and true economic gains for people working across the country of every colour and race is going to be a place of unity,” she said.
Chennai-born Jayapal is the first person of colour elected to the Washington State Democratic Delegation, and the first South Asian woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives. She said her victory is a bitter sweet moment for her. She is one of the four Indian-Americans to have won the Congressional elections this year.
Others being Kamala Harris for US Senate, and Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi for the US House of Representatives. They might be joined by Ami Bera who is currently engaged in recounting of votes.
“What has really been so incredible and heartwarming is the thousands of messages I have received from women all over the country saying, ‘We need your voice more than ever in Congress. We know that you are a fighter for women, for people of colour, for immigrants, for Muslims, working families, and that is what we are going to need of the greatest order — to remember what American values are,” she said.
“We are increasing our numbers significantly — there weren’t that many to start with, so there is that, but I think if you look at the connection between women of colour being elected to office, and then the overwhelming number of women who voted for Hillary Clinton, that is significant,” Jayapal said.