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The Malayalee-American Agenda for President Biden & Vice President Harris


While we approach the chaotic last days of the Trump administration, Malayalee Americans now have a unique opportunity in 2021.

One of the many problematic features of the Trump Presidency was the lack of a long-term policy agenda. While many political scientists and scholars will write several books about Trump’s year-after-year policy failures, four years of anti-immigrant, anti-family, extreme nationalist policies governed by tweets led to absolute chaos in national politics.

However the Biden-Harris Administration will prove a return to normal when it comes to governance and policy making. It’s boring work and most Americans don’t pay attention to every Congressional meeting. But it’s important for the growing Malayalee American community to understand the need for a progressive agenda that empowers our voice and addresses community needs.

Aligned with the South Asian Americans, Asian Americans (AAPI), and other communities of colors, a well-constructed community agenda promotes equitable representation of Malayalee Amerians within government and public policy; and ensures elected officials are better aware of large Malayalee communities in multiple big cities and regions.

As we prepare for a President Biden and Vice President Harris, the Malayalee American agenda includes:

1.    Comprehensive & Equitable Immigration Reform: with a special focus on streamlining the H1B1 backlog and process, and to ensure effective reform of the green card backlog.
2.    Kerala consideration for United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP): currently, citizens of 39 countries (for example: UK, New Zealand, Taiwan, Poland, and others) are allowed to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. The Polish-American community advocated for years to be included in the VWP. Our community should do the same to discover special considerations for Kerala residents to enjoy limited visa-free travel for a specific criteria (family events, business, etc).
3.    Expand Government Services Via Language Access: if 10% of the city/town population includes Malayalam speakers, high priority government services should be available in Malayalam and Malayalam-speaking government employees should receive a foreign language proficiency pay increase, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4.    Streamline Religious Workers Visa: streamline the review of religious worker visas submitted by any faith-based organizations with a reliable track record of faithfully utilizing the religious worker visa program.
5.    Expand Support to Malayalee-owned Small Businesses: especially to better connect our Malayalee American small business owners with business development opportunities with government procurement and large corporates

To accomplish this agenda, organizations like IADO, FOMMA, World Malayalee Council, local Malayalee associations, and Malayalee Associations should build consensus on a shared agenda to ensure maximum outreach and engagement with multiple Members of Congress, Mayors, and local elected officials. This includes legislative briefings with elected officials at every level of government, Malayalee American Advocacy Days, and identification of specific legislation that should receive robust community support.

And most important, Malayalee American civic leaders, public advocates, and activists should continue coalition building with other communities of color. Together, we can find success in accomplishing the Malayalee American agenda when we advocate for a progressive and multicultural policies with the new team at the White House.

By: Abin Kuriakose, Chicago USA (abin412@gmail.com)
Abin Kuriakose is Vice President of the Indo-American Democratic Organization (IADO).Established in 1980, IADO is the oldest South Asian American political advocacy organization in the country.


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