Immigrants Give Back

Those who came to America are serving their country by becoming Public Servants

Most 22-year-olds are usually spending their Friday nights out having a drink or two, but for Intashan Chowdhury, he is often spending his evenings in his office figuring out the budget plan for his municipality. Chowdhury is the Borough Administrator of Prospect Park, New Jersey and is the youngest in the state to hold such a position.

He is the son of Bangladeshi Immigrants and feels that he should give back to the nation that welcomed his parents when they came here 30 years ago.

“My father came here seeking political asylum”, Chowdhury said. “He sought new opportunity and a new meaning of hope.” Chowdhury does hope to make his time in his position worth it not just for himself or his parents, but for the people he serves. 

From the moment Chowdhury was sworn in, he was already thinking about what he had to do the moment he stepped into to his office. “I was already thinking about what I had to do Monday Morning”, said Chowdhury.

In the short time he has been in office, Chowdhury has been advocating for a lot of changes in Prospect Park such as a brand-new soccer field in Hofstra Park which according to him is the hidden gem of the municipality.  

PATERSON, NJ 03/29/2019 INTASHAN HOLDS PICTURE: Intashan Chowdhury poses with a family picture at his home. -Photo by Mario Papa

Chowdhury is not the only immigrant or child of one that is a Public Servant. In fact, his boss and mentor Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah of Prospect Park, NJ, is an immigrant from Syria. His family had to flee the country due to conflict occurring there. He first went to Saudi Arabia, but after he graduated high school, his father felt that moving his family was best in order for him to continue his education in college. He officially became a citizen in 2000.

“It’s an honor to have the American Citizenship because I can truly be a respected citizen of my country now”, Khairullah said. 

Mayor Khairullah first started in retail management, but felt it wasn’t fulfilling enough for his liking. “My nature is to help and assist in my local community,” he said. “I guess it’s part of my DNA that I have to be involved in something to help others”.

He first became a teacher, then moved on to Public Service where he was Councilman first, then taking up the vacancy for Mayor in 2005. In 2006, he ran for his first official term as Mayor and was elected and has been in this position ever since. 

“I guess it’s a part of my DNA that I have to be involved in something to help others”.

Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah of Prospect Park, NJ
PROSPECT PARK, NJ 04/15/2019 INTASHAN AND MAYOR AT MEETING: Intashan Chowdhury listens to Mayor Khairullah speak during a City Council Meeting at the Prospect Park Municipal Building. -Photo by Mario Papa

Both Mayor Khairullah and Chowdhury’s work and dedication to Prospect Park doesn’t go unnoticed. “The best thing is that he [Intashan] is listening to us—all of the people including my people”, said Syeda Chowdhury, Mother of Intashan. “I hope one day he will be in the White House; This is my dream.”

She feels that there is nothing stopping Intashan in his journey through public service and that his respect to others will help him drive forward which could potentially have a stop in the White House. 

I hope one day he [Intashan] will be in the White House .”

Syeda Chowdhury, Mother of Intashan Chowdhury

Speaking of the White House, research has shown that there is some immigrant representation in Washington D.C. In the last 20 years, it has been reported that immigrants in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have increased in year’s past leading up to today. Almost half of the immigrants in this year’s Congress have come from North American Countries such as Cuba and Mexico. This sort of trend can also be found when looking at Congress in the past five and ten years as well.

Some people just like Mayor Khairullah and Intashan Chowdhury’s father immigrated here to escape political violence in their native country. An example can also be found in New Jersey where newly elected Congressman Tom Malinowski of the 7thDistrict escaped Communist Poland with his mother when he was six years old.  

As Intashan Chowdhury continues to get acclimated in his role as a Public Servant he feels that immigrants working in public office is something that has always been promoted. “America is a country that our forefathers saw as something we can essentially always promote progress and stability”, he said.

Chowdhury hopes that he has motivated other people just like him to follow in his footsteps and that this sort of trend will continue for years to come. 

Click here to view an Instagram story dealing with Immigrants in Public Service.

Do you know anyone that is an immigrant or first-generation immigrant in Public Office? Feel free to share using the hashtags #FocusImmigration and #MontclairMultimedia. 

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