Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric, Violence Threatens to Strain U.S.-India Relations

As the November election results rolled in, many in India cheered the election of five Indian-Americans to the United States Congress—the most in America’s history. In January, President Donald Trump told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India was a “true friend and partner.” But in the past two weeks, three shootings targeting Indian immigrants in the United States have sent shockwaves through the Indian-American community. Now, the rising anti-immigration sentiment perpetuated by Trump is raising serious questions about the relationships between individual Americans and people of Indian descent—and about the U.S.-India relationship itself.

In recent years, the U.S.-India relationship has blossomed. After years of mutual suspicion during the Cold War and a rocky relationship after India tested nuclear weapons in 1998, the United States and India have developed a genuine partnership. Cooperation on issues ranging from energy to defense to trade have grown as the two countries have publicly embraced one another, evidenced most recently in a series of summit meetings between former-President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Modi. Indians and Indian-Americans are an essential part of American society, and make up the second largest immigrant group in the United States. To many, this bilateral partnership seems only natural, as the United States and India are the world’s two largest democracies.

This article was originally published in India West.