When she informed the university that she couldn’t accept the scholarship because she was pregnant, “LSU wrote back and promised her a month off for childbirth if she changed her mind. LSU was so accommodating, and the opportunity to come to America so thrilling, that my parents accepted.
“So, my parents stepped out on faith, secured green cards, packed up a few suitcases, said their goodbyes, and took off for this exotic new place called Baton Rouge, Louisiana.”
They arrived Feb 1, 1971, and a bit over six months later, on June 10, 1971, Piyush Jindal was born at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, a natural-born U.S. citizen, who like every other child born in America, could, constitutionally, grow up to be president.
The issues of citizenship and immigration have become major topics in the past months, with President Barack Obama releasing his “long-form” birth certificate April 27 to quell questions about where he was born. And there is a growing movement in America, led by, among others, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to change those rules and restrict birthright citizenship.
“My bill limits birthright citizenship to individuals born in the United States with at least one parent who is a legal citizen, a green card holder or an active member of the U.S. armed forces,” said Vitter in introducing his legislation on the Senate floor last month.
Were it to become law, Vitter’s bill would not be retroactive, and even if it were, or if it had been the law when Jindal was born, the future governor would have been eligible for birthright citizenship because his parents had green cards, giving them the status of permanent legal residents.
But Jindal, knowing that his own status will certainly be examined in the event he ends up on a presidential ticket, released his own birth certificate Friday, and his parents — through Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin — this week offered fresh details of their immigration to the United States.
The most significant new piece of information is that the Jindals entered the United States on green cards secured not by the governor’s mother, Raj Jindal, based on her LSU scholarship, but by his father, Amar Jindal, based on his training as an engineer.
Before the 1965 immigration reform law, immigration from Eastern Hemisphere counties, like India, was limited. But the 1965 act permitted greater immigration through a variety of categories, including “professionals, scientists and artists of exceptional ability.”
Amar Jindal’s passport is notated with the code P3-1, the visa code in 1971 for “professional or highly skilled.” And Raj Jindal received her green card as his spouse.
“Raj got her green card through her husband, Amar,” Plotkin said. “Amar received his green card though a program by the federal government to increase the number of engineers. It was not through an employer.”
Indeed, the chapter in Jindal’s book on his parents’ immigration to the United States is titled, “Yellow Pages,” describing how his father, a professor of engineering in India, left behind a “great job,” and “newly arrived in America with mom and not knowing a soul, had to find a job.”
“So he sat down at the kitchen table in early 1971 and opened up the yellow pages. Starting with the A’s, he made cold calls to local business in his heavily accented English, eventually landing a job offer at a railroad.”
Plotkin said Amar Jindal took the job with Servitron, a subsidiary of the Kansas City Southern Railway. In 1973, he was hired by Exxon, and he now works for URS Corp., a large engineering firm with offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and around the country.
Meanwhile, Raj Jindal pursued her studies at LSU, receiving two separate master of science degrees in six years — the first in physics in 1973 and the second in nuclear engineering in 1976.
“The reason she didn’t pursue her doctorate is because the jobs in that field would have required her to move out of the state and the family didn’t want to move so she decided to go into” information technology, Plotkin said.
In 1977, Raj Jindal went to work for the Information Technology section of the state Department of Labor, where she is now the department’s Director of Information Technology.
At the time of their immigration, Raj Jindal could have secured a student visa through LSU, and her husband could have accompanied her as a spouse, though that would not have permitted him to work.
And, under the terms of the legislation offered by Vitter, a child born to someone holding a student visa would not be eligible for birthright citizenship.
The primary target of Vitter’s bill are what he calls “birth tourists,” those who come to the United States to have their children for the purposes of gaining that child American citizenship, and so-called “anchor babies,” children born in the United States to mothers who are living in the country illegally. The children, when they turn 21, can then seek to sponsor other family members for entry into the U.S.
Asked whether he was concerned that his legislation could adversely affect a future Bobby Jindal, whose parents simply chose to come to the United States on a student visa instead of a green card, Vitter replied, “Let’s not get distracted from the real issue.”
“The anchor baby rule clearly acts as a magnet to draw more illegal immigrant parents here,” he said. “If we don’t solve that and the illegal immigration problem, it won’t much matter who’s running for president.”
As for the governor’s opinion of Vitter’s bill, Plotkin said, “We’re focused on Louisiana issues right now and we’ll let our delegation handle their D.C. politics.”
But that does not mean that the governor has been able to avoid the politics of birth.
He was sharply criticized by some last month when he said he would sign a bill filed in the Louisiana Legislature that would require candidates for federal office to provide a birth certificate in order to get on the ballot.
“This is what is called in politics a ‘dog whistle,'” The Advocate of Baton Rouge wrote in an editorial. “While there is no reason for the Louisiana Legislature to pass a birther bill, the pledge to sign the bill is a signal to the lunatic fringe that Jindal is sympathetic to them.”
The editorial concluded with the line: “Piyush Amrit Jindal is the last man in America who should give his blessing to a birther bill.”
Timothy Teepell, the governor’s chief of staff, responded with a scathing letter to the editor.
“Opponents have referred to Gov. Jindal as Piyush ‘Amrit’ Jindal for years to insinuate that someone with a foreign-sounding name is less American than you or I,” wrote Teepell, who said that it was the paper that was engaged in “an effort to use a dog whistle to stir up nativist instincts among your readers,” and that, in any case, Amrit was not the governor’s middle name.
“And,” Teepell wrote, “if The Advocate editorial staff is unwilling to believe Gov. Jindal’s middle name is not ‘Amrit,’ I will be happy to provide you with a copy of his birth certificate.
The document, which includes the basic information found on Obama’s long-form version, reveals that the governor was born at 12:27 p.m. on June 10, 1971; that his parents, who were living in student housing, listed their address as “Physics Department LSU;” that the attending physician was a Dr. Rabalais; and that Piyush Jindal — who as a young boy asked to be called Bobby — has no middle name.
- La. Gov. Bobby Jindal releases birth certificate (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- For No Apparent Reason, LA Gov. Bobby Jindal Releases Birth Certificate (alan.com)
- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal releases his birth certificate: Hey,… (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- Jindal Releases His Birth Certificate (politicalwire.com)
- Bobby Jindal is so committed to politicians being US born, he will sacrifice himself. (hahayourefunny.wordpress.com)
- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Willing to Sign ‘Birther’ Bill (theroot.com)
- Jindal Would Sign “Birther” Bill (politicalwire.com)
- Bobby Jindal will sign Louisiana’s ‘Birther Bill’ if it hits his desk (crooksandliars.com)
- Gov. Bobby Jindal Says He’ll Sign ‘Birther’ Bill If It Reaches His Desk (mediaite.com)
- Gov. Jindal Will Sign Louisiana’s Birther Bill If It Gets To Him (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)