If US Raises CAA Issue, India Will Cite Lautenberg Amendment Meant For Jews, Christians To Gain US Citizenship: Report
During the US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, if the US raises the issue of religious freedom, India will counter that with the corresponding Lautenberg Amendment that helped certain persecuted religious minorities get US citizenship, reports Economic Times.
This amendment was created to help certain persecuted religious minorities from the erstwhile Soviet Union get US citizenship. It was later extended to include ‘persecuted minorities’ from Iran in 2004, through the Specter Amendment.
For India, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) is very important because the CAA provides the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian and Parsi communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh (PAB), who have faced religious persecution, a chance to become naturalised citizens on favourable terms.
Which is why if the US questions India on religious freedom, India will highlight specific amendments to the US constitution that are akin to the CAA.
The Lautenberg Amendment was introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg, a son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, in 1989-90.
Similar to CAA which allows citizenship to persecuted minorities, Lautenberg Amendment also gives refugees, the opportunity to eventually get citizenship to a set of minorities from three countries — two from the former Soviet Union, besides Iran.
It should be noted that, Lautenberg recognised that some refugees of specific religions from specific countries could be identified as ‘historically persecuted groups’ and, hence, given refugee status without requiring them to show that they individually had been persecuted.
The Lautenberg amendment gave preferential treatment to Jews or Evangelical Christians to gain citizenship in the US.
Hindus in PAB countries have been facing persecution for decades and news of Hindu girls getting kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim man has made headlines numerous times. So from the Lautenberg amendment perspective Hindus, Christians and Sikhs can be identified as ‘historically persecuted groups.’
Unlike Lautenberg which concerns itself with religious minorities living in other countries, CAA doesn’t concern itself with religious minorities living in PAB who want to come to India on grounds of persecution.
It only concerns itself with providing a pathway to citizenship to those religious minorities from PAB who are already living in India. The CAA provides a cut-off date of December 2014, after which, any religious minority from the neighbouring countries, who flees to India, cannot avail the benefits under the act.
Also, Pakistan and Bangladesh have shown no concern for their nationalities who have illegally immigrated into other countries. They have never been enthusiastic about their repatriation.
When we compare CAA 2019 with Lautenberg Amendment of US, we can clearly see that the former is very limited in its scope, and grounds itself in historical realities of the Indian subcontinent, instead of foreign policy, or the geopolitics of religion around the world.
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