Friendship Council

Several U.S. lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties participated in the 20th annual Legislative Conference of the Indian American Friendship Council to weigh in on U.S.-India ties. U.S. Rep Tulsi Gabbard was among the speakers at the event. (Tulsi Gabbard photo)

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. lawmakers cutting across party lines have advocated the strengthening of ties with India and asked the Indian American community to chip in to find new opportunities for growth.

Senators and congressmen from both the Republican and the opposition Democratic parties said that the relationship with India was important and Indian Americans have a significant role to play in this.

“I have worked very, very hard on allowing more immigrants and particularly South Asian immigrants, people from India, come to America,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is often criticized for his strong anti-H-1B stand both inside and outside the Congress.

The H-1B visa, the most popular among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

“The Indian community has done so much for our country in terms of science, in terms of business, in terms of creativity,” Schumer said in his address to the 20th annual Legislative Conference of the Indian American Friendship Council.

Schumer said when he wrote the immigration bill, he made special provisions to allow more Indians to come to America.

The top American senator from New York said that he plans to travel to India soon.

Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said that over the years, the U.S. and India have made great strides in strengthening the important relationship, from cooperating in education to business to counterterrorism and so much more.

As co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans and through her work on the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Gabbard said she had been working to strengthen the friendship and bonds that the two nations already share, and to encourage new opportunities for growth.

“The Indian American Friendship Council's work to promote mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas, further understanding between elected leaders and those in the private sector, and provide a voice to the more than three million Indian Americans living in the United States has furthered this progress and expanded the U.S.-India relationship for the benefit of both countries and their citizens,” Gabbard said.

Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said the two countries have a historic opportunity moving forward. India, he said, lives in a tough neighborhood. He called for counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries.

Congressman Eliot Engel, ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said that the relationship between the United States and India will continue to strengthen and will continue to be strong.

The gathering was also addressed by more than a dozen lawmakers including Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Frank Pallone and Sheila Jackson Lee.

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