A disturbing video of a man secretly filming unsuspecting Indian immigrant families at a Columbus, Ohio park — accusing them of "ravaging the Midwest" and "stealing American jobs" — is causing apprehension in the Indian community following attacks on three Indians in the last few weeks.
The video was surreptitiously filmed by Steve Pushor, 66, a computer programmer who posted it on his anti-immigrant site, SaveAmericanITJobs.org, according to BuzzFeed, which spoke to Pushor.
The video shows Pushor narrating his walk through a park he calls "mini-Mumbai" while filming Indian families socializing there. As he pans the camera through the park where several children are playing, he’s heard saying “what happened to all the American people that used to live in this middle, upper-middle class neighborhood,” adding that “it’s not the Americana that we all know and love, it’s shockingly different.”
He also rants several times that “these people” are “taking American jobs.”
The video then zooms in on women in traditional Indian clothing, while Pushor says “these people are not assimilating much to the society here.” But he does “applaud” another group playing volleyball. “Last year at this time, the Indian crowd was playing cricket, but I’m happy to report this year we have volleyball ... which is a migration toward American way of life I guess,” he said.
Pushor did not return requests for comment by NBC News.
The video, which briefly surfaced last summer, came back into prominence earlier this month and is making the rounds over social media and private chat groups.
“I was disgusted to see that video, someone spying on our children and community while talking down about us,” said Sunil Rao, an Indian immigrant living in Columbus. “We came here for a better life and feel very much a part of this country,” he said.
“The community feels insecure,” said Animesh Goenka, the immediate past president of the Association of Indians in America. “Friends and family in India are concerned for our safety here, he said. “Some people feel that immigrants are not part and parcel of our nation, but we were all immigrants at one point,” he said.
Pushor’s website aims to “save American IT jobs from those who utilize the US Government Visa system in a way that victimizes United States Citizens.” It’s inundated with content bashing the H1B visa program saying that immigrants have stolen the IT industry from natural born Americans. The site seems to suggest that there is a huge pool of American IT professionals that haven’t been able to find work due to immigrants.
An assertion that has been disputed by several employment studies.
After surveying hundreds of tech jobs over the country, employment recruiting agency Indeed found that, while demand is extremely high, there are just not enough candidates to fill these roles.
"It is increasingly competitive for companies to find the technical talent they need as companies ramp up their demand for these professionals not only in the tech space, but across industries,” said Terence Chiu, VP of Indeed Prime. “On Indeed's search engine, we see that many tech roles have as much as 40% of openings staying up over 60 days, a sign that employers are either finding the roles hard to fill, or simply continue to have strong demand for this talent,” he said.
And while Pushor says several times in the video that the area has been “taken over” by Indians, federal data shows Franklin County, where Columbus sits, remains almost 70 percent white.
The alarming video comes on the heels of attacks on three people of Indian origin in the last couple of weeks.
A masked gunman shot a Sikh man after telling him to get out of the country over the weekend. And, less than ten days before that, two Indian men were shot in a Kansas bar by a man yelling the same words.
Alok Madasani, 32, was injured and Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed in that attack. The killing sent shivers down the spine of several immigrants.
The attacks are being investigated as hate crimes by federal law enforcement.
“It does affect you, and you can’t help but think about it when you’re out,” said Rina Shah, a Columbus resident who emigrated from India in 1994.
The Ohio Indian community held a candlelight vigil for Kuchibhotla in front of the state capital in Columbus on Sunday.
“People are a little bit nervous, a lot of people called me when the video came out,” said Niranjan Patel, chairman of the Federation of Indian Associations of Central Ohio. “But we have to stay strong and know that this does not represent the whole country," he said.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to correct the name of Terence Chiu. A previous version incorrectly spelled Chiu's first name as Terrance.