Tahmina’s Speech at Tasveer’s Vigil for Slain Immigrant Srinivas Kuchibhotla

Today, Sunday March 5th 2017, Tasveer, under the leadership of its Executive Director Rita Meher, organized a vigil that was part of a world wide memorial for the Kansas city slain immigrant Srinivas Kuchibhotla. It was a bitterly cold afternoon yet about 200 people turned up to have their voices heard. Local leaders and government officials appeared to deliver their messages.  The event was reported on local Seattle television Komo News and other channels.  I had the distinct honor of being invited to say a few words. When it was my turn to speak, sudden windy snow disrupted the delivery. However, I charged ahead and delivered my speech.  To ensure all have access to my speech, I am posting it here.  Keep up the fight!

Good afternoon,

Thank you to Tasveer and Rita Meher for organizing this solemn vigil today. I am honored to have the opportunity to speak.

I am an immigrant to America, similar to many of you gathered here today. As you may know, I am an immigration attorney in Seattle.  I represent the immigrant community every day through my work as an immigration lawyer and also as a radio show host speaking about immigration issues to the Desi community.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla was just like any one of my clients whom I help, respect, and admire.  As I find myself in the midst of the H1b madness, a successful professional, Srinivas’s resume reads just like the many I see every day.  While I didn’t know him personally, I know him.

My heart goes out to Srinivas and his family.  My heart breaks for his wife Sunaya Dumala.  This tragic incident of hate and intolerance has devastated this family and shocked America.

I commend his wife Sunaya for having, while grieving, the courage and strength to speak up and demand justice.

And while we await justice to be delivered, similar incidents are escalating around the country.  There was a stabbing incident in Houston, TX last week.  Last Friday saw a shooting of one of our own neighbors and community members in Kent, WA who was shot in his own driveway. A few days ago, a South Asian woman was slapped as she was getting out of her car in Fremont, Seattle. Each incident preceded with the words “go back to your own country”

Earlier last week, Jewish institutions around the country, including here on Mercer Island, received bomb threats.

A Muslim ban was imposed, then stopped and another one is on its way – tomorrow.   And just in case you or someone you know needs it, make note of AirportLawyer.org.  It will connect passengers to volunteer immigration lawyers.

This is not the America we know and love. Intolerance and hatred has no place here. Intolerance and hatred is not what this country was founded upon and are not the American values.

The declaration of independence written in 1776 stated “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

How is it that almost 250 years later, we are still fighting for these rights. Fighting for the simple right to be alive? One of my dearest clients said me to me last week, who in many ways is similar to Srinivas- “Tahmina, I just want to stay alive”.  No. This is not the America we know and love.

This country is a nation of immigrants.  White, brown, or black, everyone is an immigrant or descendents of immigrants (unless of course you are a native American).

While I could talk much about immigrant contribution to the US and give you numbers and statistics, you already know that. So, we need to remind those who ignore their own heritage and ignore facts about immigrant contribution to America-  that we all belong here.

If the leaders of the nation do not remember the core values of this country, then we, the people, need be united in our voice and need to remind themWe, the people, must continue to resist and fight.

Thank you.

**Copyright 2017 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed