Washington State US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal showed yet again her sense of leadership as she responded calmly to a man named John from Sebring, Florida, who went on a rant about “illegal aliens” reaping government benefits and stealing American jobs. At first, Indian-American Pramila Jayapal shook her head slightly in disagreement, but then she sat expressionless as he went on.
For Representative Jayapal, the caller’s rant wasn’t about just a policy issue she’s passionate about - though she is, deeply. It’s also personal, reported the Washington Post.
In her answer to the caller, she replied, “John, it sounds like you are in a lot of economic pain and that is true across the country, and there is no question we as a country need to deal with economic inequality across the country and make sure we have good paying jobs for everyone. And I am committed to that and I’ll tell you that right here looking into… I can’t see your face, but looking into your eyes, I’ll tell you to blame immigrants is completely wrong and here’s why.”
She further said, “Immigrants contribute more than they take. It is a lie that they take public benefit. It’s because they don’t qualify for benefits. There are some states like my state of Washington which is very generous to immigrant kids and we don’t check on the status of some of the benefits we provide to children in healthcare. But immigrants are not eligible for benefits, so this is the myth people are spreading.”
The Congresswoman said for her the immigrant experience is not theoretical; she is used to hearing all kinds things related to hate crimes and lynching.
When asking about her own journey, she stated, “The majority of Americans I believe think that immigration is good for the country. People like me have helped build the country. A lot of Americans remember their parents and grandparents came over here with nothing.”
“There is a small minority that is trying to divide the country by blaming immigrants. To those people I would just say you are wrong, we have always been and always will be a great force for good,” she concluded.
Jayapal founded a nonprofit called “OneAmerica” in Washington after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that declared Washington State a “hate free zone,” and lobbied on behalf of immigrants. In 2013, then President Barack Obama named her a “Champion of Change.”