We held our Fifth Annual Sikh Summit last year, where we met with approximately forty congressmen, government officials, and NGOs to discuss issues important to the Sikhs in the Unted States. The Sixth Annual Sikh Summit is to be held from July 28th to 30th.
Key issues to be discussed at the Hill:-
Sikhs in the U.S. Census
Amongst those issues was the need for Sikhs to be counted as a separate category within the U.S. Census. As Sikhs, we have been victims of discrimination, hate crimes, profiling, and bullying, but how many of us are victims? In order for us to adequately advocate for ourselves, we need to know how many of us reside in the United States so we know the percentages and ratios important for such advocacy work. As it stands, we don’t have those numbers. Some Sikh organizations will say 500,000 Sikhs live in this country, while others say one million. We have no way of knowing for sure until we are counted in the Census.
UNITED SIKHS worked tirelessly on this issue in previous years, in hopes of change for the 2010 Census. We successfully began a campaign to inform Sikhs to check "OTHER" and write in "Sikh" on their Census forms. To read our detailed report on Sikhs in the United States Census, please click here.
With the 2020 Census in mind, we have vigorously engaged with officials involved with the United States Census to gauge what steps we can take to move this issue forth. We have had extensive conversations with key individuals, such as: Congressman Frank Wolf’s office, The Census Project Stakeholders, the Director of Census and Voting Programs for Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Through these interactions, there is general consensus: Reach out in numbers to the relevant Congressmen who have experience, ties, and pull within the Census Bureau.
And that is exactly what we are going to do. We have requested meetings with key members of Congress who work on Census issues, such as: Senator Claire McCaskill, Senator Tom Coburn, Congressman Stephen Lynch, Congressman Blake Farenthold, Congressman Jose Serrano, and more.
Sikhs in the Military
Sikhs continue to fight for their right to serve in the U.S. armed forces, and UNITED SIKHS legal team is helping them to the fullest possible extent. We are currently representing a couple of young Sikhs in their religious accommodation requests before the Department of the Army. The revision to the army regulations made earlier this year do not provide for any substantive relief. They merely establish a procedure for applying for religious accommodation and give complete discretion to the army to accept, or reject the request. In fact, there hasn't been a single reported case of acceptance since the regulations were revised.
We will continue with our efforts until the day devout Sikhs can freely serve their country with their articles of faith intact and we hope you will join us. We are meeting with key members of Congress who work on issues pertaining to the Armed Services, such as: Congressman Chris Gibson, Congressman Joe Heck, Senator David Vitter, Senator Bill Nelson, and Senator Carl Levin.
Issues impacting the Sikhs in other Countries - France, Belgium, Italy, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and many others.
Many of you have already registered. We still have a few spots left. We hope to see you at the nation’s capital from July 28-30 to speak with key decision makers on the future of the American Sikh community. Please RSVP at: www.unitedsikhs.org/sikhsummit2014 .
Some of the other issues to be discussed will include-
- Halting the continued introduction of hair sampling bills by U.S. Congress members
- Allowing Sikhs to serve in the U.S. Military without choosing between their faith and country
- Addressing the ongoing turban ban in Belgium and France
We will be meeting with members of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, International Religious Freedom Caucus, Oversight and Government Reform committee, Appropriations, Commerce, Science, and Justice Subcommittee, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee.
If you have been a victim of discrimination, were turned away by the military due to your articles of faith, or have been asked to provide a hair sample for work, we encourage you to join us as we present these issues and insist on change.
On July 26th, join us as we celebrate the creative and distinct work of individuals in our community, along with allies in our human and civil rights advocacy efforts.
To learn more about the 2014 Sikh Summit Gala and to buy tickets, please visit our webpage: www.unitedsikhs.org/gala2014
Staff Attorney and Policy Advocate
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
Tel: 1-646-688-3525 (Toll-free: 1-888-243-1690 (US Only))