Flyers with xenophobic messages targeting two Asian-American school board candidates have reached the mailboxes of several New Jersey residents, sparking outrage among the community members in the city.
The residents of Edison City in New Jersey have received anonymous letters in their mail this week that seeks to deport Indian-American Falguni Patel and Chinese-American Jerry Shi -– who are candidates of the school board -– alleging that the Chinese and Indians are taking over the town.
Under the banner "Make Edison Great Again", the flyer has mugshot pictures of Jerry and Falguni with "deport" stamped over them.
"Stop Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel from taking over our school board," says the letter that has reached mailboxes of a large number of Edison residents.
The New Jersey City of Edison, is considered as part of the New York City metropolitan area and has a sizable population of Indian-Americans.
The appearance of such racial fliers has sent shock waves among the residents of Edison, which earns its name from Thomas Edison, inventor of electric bulb.
The letter claims that "Chinese and Indians are taking over our town," and goes on to say, "Enough is enough!"
Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said he was appalled to hear of the racist flyers.
"Ours is a nation of immigrants and our national fabric is woven from the rich and varied cultures of everyone who took the leap of faith to pursue the American Dream," he said.
"The community of Edison is better than this and so is our country, but unfortunately, the politics of hate is part of our past and our present. Only through all our communities joining together to expand the circle of inclusion can we ensure that this hatred won't be part of our future," Krishnamoorthi said.
The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) and the South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey (SABA-NJ) said that they are deeply troubled and disheartened by the letters being mailed out in Edison. “We emphasise that there is no place for racism, particularly when it calls for the deportation of citizens of the United States, in our democracy,” they said in a joint statement.
"Attempts to intimidate candidate or voters through calls to punish or deport someone simply because of their ethnic background are unacceptable and should not be tolerated," said Rishi Bagga, SABA president.
"Let us assure our Indian and Chinese community, and all of our fellow New Jersey residents, that we will not tolerate racism and hate, and we want to change the conversation," said Bhaveen Jani and Sharmila Jaipersaud of SABA-NJ.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee condemned the racist "Make Edison Great Again" mailer.
"More than one in five New Jersey residents is an immigrant, and nearly half of Edison, New Jersey residents are Asian. These include hard working business owners, taxpayers, teachers, mothers, children and neighbours who love their communities. This racist mailer is shameful and disgusting and was produced for no other intention than to empower divisive forces of bigotry and hate," Meng said.
Both Patel and Jerry have condemned the fliers.
"I'm obviously disgusted by it, to say the least. I didn't expect anything like that. We live in a such diverse town, it's very shocking somebody would put that in writing," Patel told local radio station WKXW.