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Citizenship: Jon Ossoff Responds to South Asian Concerns

June 2017
Citizenship: Jon Ossoff Responds to South Asian Concerns

Ossoff is in a dead heat with Karen Handel in the 6th District, a race that has taken on a national significance, and is seen as a referendum on the Trump presidency. In the light of how the nation seems to have made an about-turn on its core values under Trump, many South Asians are concerned about their place, security, and future in this nation. So Khabar posed a set of three targeted questions regarding those concerns to both the campaigns.

The most prominent aspect of this election is how Ossoff, an underdog, if there ever was one, has massively disrupted the Republican stronghold that Atlanta’s 6th District has traditionally enjoyed. Mitt Romney won it by 23 points in 2012. Republican Tom Price was re-elected with close to 62 percent of the vote in 2016. (His seat became vacant when he was recruited by Trump as the nation’s health and human services secretary). Traditionally, Democrats have not even bothered to put up much of a fight for this seat, making the Republican candidates a shoo-in.

Of course, Ossoff, thanks to the mobilization of thousands of volunteers, a somewhat apolitical message focusing on economic rejuvenation, and the interest the campaign has drawn from national press, has turned the situation around. An unprecedented amount of money and national players—Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, etc.—have jumped into the action. Even Trump has served as proxy for Handel, employing his prolific Twitter account to go after Ossoff.

And yet, Ossoff almost pulled off a miracle in the primaries of this election. He fell just short of the 50 percent needed to take the seat outright—pushing the election into a runoff that will be decided by the election on June 20th. Handel came in a distant second in the primaries, with about 19 percent of the vote.

The 6th District spreads over a wide swath of metro Atlanta, with South Asians making 7 percent of its constituents. We posed the following questions regarding those concerns to both the campaigns—that of Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff. Both campaigns were copied on the same email.

We never got an acknowledgement, let alone responses, from the Handel campaign. We followed up with a phone call, which went to a voice mail. A voice message was left to draw attention to the email that was sent, and to request responses. Again, there was no acknowledgment or response to that, either.

Following are the questions, and the responses from Jon Ossoff.

Since the 2016 election, South Asian Americans have been targets in a rash of hate crimes against the community (including three murders). Do you feel the campaign rhetoric contributed to these tragic events and what steps would you take to address this?
I believe that it is a violation of core American principles to slander entire religions or groups. In Congress, I will fight tirelessly against discrimination, hate speech, or violence against Americans on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or place of birth.



With John Lewis, the Congressman and iconic leader of the civil-rights movement, who has endorsed Ossoff. (Photo: electjon.com)

What are your thoughts on the administration’s proposed travel ban from select countries?
It is unconstitutional to ban anyone from entering our country on religious grounds. My mother is an immigrant who became a small business owner, an American citizen, and a champion for women’s rights. We should welcome those who, like our own forebears, seek the opportunity to work hard, play by the rules, and build better lives in America.

Religious and cultural freedoms are important matters for the South Asian American community. As a member of Congress, how will you work to ensure our religious institutions and cultural practices are protected?
Religious and cultural freedoms are core American principles. As a member of Congress, I will resist any attempts, either through legislation or executive action, to curtail the religious and cultural freedoms that we all cherish.

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