RHC agenda

Indian American businessman Shalabh ‘Shalli’ Kumar (right), shown here with President Donald Trump, has announced the formation of a Congressional Hindu Caucus, which is scheduled to launch March 13. (India-West file photo)

Indian American businessman Shalabh ‘Shalli’ Kumar, founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, has announced the formation of a Congressional Hindu Caucus, which is scheduled to launch March 13.

In a whatsapp message announcing the RHC’s agenda for March and April, Kumar said that the RHC has sent out invitations to more than 110 House members, asking them – or their chiefs of staff or legislative directors – to attend a March 8 briefing, ahead of the March 13 launch of the new caucus.

Kumar and others will brief attendees about the aims of the RHC – which was founded in 2017 to support Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Attendees will also be briefed on the CHC, its agenda, and policy pursuits.

On March 13, 50 House members, accompanied by 50 members of RHC’s leadership, are expected to attend the launch of the new caucus. At press time, it was unclear whether any of the four Indian American members of the House – who are all Democrats – would be attending the briefing or the launch.

Kumar did not answer by press time a question by India-West asking how many House members had pledged to join the caucus.

The CHC is not without precedent: in 2014, the American Sikh Congressional Caucus – currently chaired by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. – was launched. The House Caucus on India and Indian Americans is one of the largest caucuses in that chamber.

Kumar also announced over whatsapp the formation of a Hindu and Indian American Advisory Council of President Trump, which is expected to launch sometime in April. A delegation of advisory council members is expected to meet with Trump April 16 to advise him on immigration issues critical to the Indian American community.

The RHC has taken up the issue of H-4 children who are aging out of their dependent status as their H-1B parents remain mired in the decades-long green card backlog (see earlier India-West story here). The organization held a rally in Washington, DC in February, and has enlisted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, to bring visibility to the issue in the Senate. Paul has written an amendment to the Fairness for Highly Skilled Immigrants Act, which proposes fixes to the green card backlog.

The RHC has also planned a rally at the National Mall in Washington, DC in April; the date has not yet been announced. More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the rally, along with Paul and possibly Trump. The organization has also planned a smaller, 5,000-person rally April 16 on Capitol Hill.

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