When most Americans think of the Hindu community here, they tend to conflate Hindus with Indians, up to a third of the Hindu population in the U.S. is not from India and close to 40 percent of the Indian-American population is not Hindu.
Nepal is one of three Hindu majority countries in the world, and in 2015, the country was impacted by a devastating earthquake. To accommodate survivors of the quake, the Obama Administration granted temporary protected status (TPS) to nearly 10,000 Nepalis, most of who are Hindu. Last month, the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security pulled the rug from under them.
With the cancellation of protected status, the quake survivors will have to return to a country that has so far failed to recover from the devastation. Moreover, some Hindu organizations have noted that quake survivors in Nepal have been targeted for aggressive proselytizing by U.S. based evangelical groups seeking to exploit the tragedy for conversions.
As a candidate, Trump claimed to be a “big fan of Hindu,” and his campaign made a spectacle of outreach to Hindus, primarily Indian-Americans, despite the community’s longstanding support for Democrats—just the latest of Trump saying one thing and doing another. Since many Nepalis in the United States are economically disadvantaged, Trump is betting that backlash from the larger Hindu community won’t be strong.
Indeed, Nepali Hindus are often left out of the conversation about the future of the Hindu American community, and few Hindu organizations—often more tuned into the concerns of the generally more affluent and educated Indian American Hindu community—have been able to effectively advocate on their behalf. As a result, they have been marginalized. For thousands of Nepalis, that’s likely to mean being sent back to devastation.
Barring a last-minute change of heart by the DHS, the future for the TPS recipients looks bleak. It’s another example of how the Trump Administration’s cruelty has gone unabated, and further exposes the hypocrisy of his allies on the Christian Right.