U.S. Congress launches American Sikh Congressional Caucus

Washington, April 24 (ANI): The U.S. Congress today launched the American Sikh Congressional Caucus during 113th Congress to garner more support from Congress members to resolve issues confronting the Sikh community.

The caucus will serve to educate Members of Congress and the general public about American Sikhs issues and draw strategy on how to support the American Sikh community.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror strikes, American Sikhs have experienced a sharp rise in incidents of bias, motivated violence and bullying.

According to available reports, over 700 such incidents have taken place in the United States over the last decade.

Surveys have also found that three out of every four Sikh boys in the United States are bullied due to their appearance.

The shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek (Wisconsin) last year is a tragic example of why the Congress must focus on American Sikh issues.

Democrat Congress member Judy Chu from Pasadena, California, and Co-Chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, hailed American Sikhs by saying that they have contributed to the strength and diversity of the United States for over 130 years, starting businesses and becoming active leaders in our local communities.

She said that although American Sikhs have served with distinction in the U.S. armed forces in both World Wars, Vietnam and most recently in Afghanistan, Sikhs are presumptively not permitted to join the U.S. armed forces because of restrictive appearance regulations.

American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) Coordinator Dr.Pritpal Singh welcomed the formation of the caucus, saying its coming into existence would give individuals and advocacy groups will have a platform to disseminate information on Sikh issues to the members of Congress.

“We will apprise policy makers about the significant issues affecting the community,” said Dr.Pritpal Singh.

Among the issues confronting the Sikh community is one relating to their identity, as they have become victims of hate crimes in the United States because of mistaken identity.

“The turban issue, the security of Sikh gurdwaras (Shrine) and human rights issues are other vital subjects that need attention,” said Harpreet Singh, a California-based political activist.

Many groups, including the Sikh Coalition, the United Sikhs and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund took part actively in the program.

Jasdeep Singh, Legal Director of the Sikh Coalition, further said that the Caucus would serve as a voice of Sikhs and their issues.

“We want many more Congress members to join the caucus, and will reach out to all our friends in the near future and make this group a major platform,” said Manmeet Singh, a representative of the United Sikhs forum.

Congressman David Valadao, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Congressman Mike Honda, Congresswoman Lleana Ros-Lehtinen and other members of the Congressional Sikh Caucus were present during the announcement of the launch of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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