By Taylor Ha and Rebekah Sherry
Donald Trump lights the dihya, a traditional Indian candle used during the festival of Diwali, in his campaign’s latest ad targeting Indian-Americans. Released last Thursday three days before Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights – the 30-second ad is part of Trumpa��s attempt to win support from Indian-Americans, the latest ethnic group he is reaching out to in a last-ditch effort to win votes next Tuesday.
Seventy-nine percent of Indian-American voters are either inclined towards Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or other candidates, according to the Fall 2016 National Asian American Survey.
That number includes an Indian-American graduate student at Stony Brook University, and especially some of her Indian-American friends.
a�?If Trump does come to power, they will be leaving the country,a�? the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
Most Indian-American registered voters do not seem to favor Trump. But what are the stories of the 7 percent, from the aforementioned survey, who do?
Some 16,214 Indian-Americans live in Suffolk County, while another 44,182 reside in Nassau County, according to 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
That includes two brothers from Glen Head, Long Island: Prasanth and Anand Venigalla. Both plan on voting for Trump, but not for the same reasons.
a�?For a long time, I thought I would sit out this election. I was turned off by things he did,a�? Prasanth said. But ultimately, he viewed Trump as the lesser of two evils.
His brother Anand, on the other hand, who identifies with Libertarian values, likes that Trump isna��t afraid to oppose the majority.
a�?Trump has given some interesting trends to the country, especially in facing opposition from the left wing media and the neo-conservatives,a�? Anand, a freshman at LIU Post, said.
Another college student, Joshua Charles, a junior biology major at Stony Brook University, cannot condone everything Trump says. But at this point, Charles is unhappy with the current political system.
a�?I like the policies hea��s [Trumpa��s] proposing,a�? he said. a�?Like many other people in the U.S., Ia��m fed up with the way things are.a�?
Then therea��s Anand Ahuja, the Vice President of Indian Americans for Trump 2016 – a New Jersey based political action committee that aims to persuade American voters, particularly Indian-Americans, why Trumpa��s agenda is favorable.
a�?The law says that if you erase any evidence regarding an investigation intentionally or negligently, it is a crime,a�? Ahuja, who is also a lawyer in Hicksville, said. a�?In any other country, she [Clinton] would be a criminal, but in the U.S., the President of the country is endorsing her. Ita��s like we are not living in America, but we are living in a banana republic.a�?
Indian-Americans, who make up 19 percent of the overall Asian-American population, are the second largest Asian-American subgroup in the U.S.
Asian-Americans, including Indian-Americans, will make up 5 percent of voters nationwide by 2025, according to the Center for American Progress and AAPI Data. By 2044, that number is forecasted to rise to 10 percent.