Houston: President Donald Trump has praised the contributions of the influential and thriving Indian-American community in the country, saying he was "truly proud" to have them as Americans.
President Trump lauded the role of the Indian diaspora in the US at the historic "Howdy, Modi!" event in Houston, Texas, as he addressed a record crowd of over 50,000 Indian-Americans who gathered at the NRG Stadium to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Prime Minister Modi and I have come to Houston to celebrate everything that unites America and India -- our shared dreams and bright futures," he said on Sunday.
Trump said he was attending the event to express his profound gratitude to the nearly 4 million amazing Indian Americans all across the country, who are "thriving, prospering, flourishing and hardworking."
"You enrich our culture. You uphold our values. You uplift our communities. You are truly proud to be Americans and we are proud to have you as Americans.
Trump, calling the gathering a "profoundly historic event," was greeted with a standing ovation by the crowd.
"You (India) have never had a better friend as President as President Donald Trump," Trump declared as he was loudly cheered.
"We thank you, we love you, and I want you to know that my administration is fighting for you each and everyday," the president, who is eyeing a second term at the White House in 2020, said.
It is estimated that there are about 500,000 Indians in the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of India in Houston. The two largest concentrations are in Houston and Dallas and their suburbs which have approximately 150,000 Indians each.
Trump pointed out that over the last two years, the unemployment rate among Indian-Americans dropped by nearly 33 1/3rd per cent.
The president acknowledged that the Indian-American community was helping to strengthen the country.
"Indian Americans are pioneering, groundbreaking medicines save countless lives. They are developing revolutionary technology that is changing the world and they are founding new businesses that provide jobs to thousands to our fellow citizens.
Trump said along with Prime Minister Modi, he was looking forward to working with the Indian-American community to make the two countries even more prosperous than ever before.
He noted that Indian companies employed tens of thousands of Americans across a range of industries in the US.
Trump said his administration believes that it was "our first duty is 'we must always be there for the American people' whether it is African Americans, Hispanic-Americans or Indian-Americans.
"We are going to take care of our citizens first, we are going to care of our Indian-Americans before we take care of illegal immigrants who want to pour into our country," the president said.
"America has always been a nation of pioneers and patriots, risk-takers and free thinkers and dedicated workers who have honed their trade, mastered their field, and teach their children to always give their very, very best.
"Everyday, Indian-Americans help write this story of American greatness and everyone here today has a crucial part to play in building an even grander and greater American and Indian future.
Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cites in the US and according to media reports, oil-rich Texas is a must-win state for President Trump in the elections next year.
On his part, Prime Minister Modi too gave tacit support for Trump's 2020 re-election bid, saying 'Abki Baar, Trump Sarkar".
"We in India have connected well with President Trump. The words of candidate Trump - Abki Baar Trump Sarkar rang loud and clear and his celebration in the White House lit up millions of faces with joy and appreciation," Modi said.
Modi's pitch could help Trump in winning votes of the nearly four million Indian-Americans who have traditionally voted for the Democratic Party.
"You can feel the strength and depth of human bonds between our two great nations. People are at the heart of all relationships from Houston to Hyderabad, from Boston to Bengaluru, from Chicago to Shimla, from Los Angeles to Ludhiana, from New Jersey to New Delhi," Modi said.
He noted that hundreds of millions were glued to their TV even across the world and they were witnessing history in the making.
"Mr. President, you had introduced me to your family in 2017 and today I have the honour to introduce you to my family, over a billion Indians and people of Indian heritage around the globe," the prime minister said as he introduced the US President at the "Howdy, Modi!" event.
Soon after the gala event, an impressed Trump tweeted to say, "The USA loves India!"
He described as "incredible" the electric atmosphere at the NRG arena in Houston.