federal agencies to voice their concerns
Sikh community attendees with Congresswoman Judy Chu, co-chair for American Sikh Congressional Caucus
WASHINGTON, D.C.: United Sikhs organization once again gave the national Sikh community a chance to meet US congressmen from different regions and federal agency officials face to face. Sikh activists and community members shared community concerns and expressed the need for change in our policies.
Held October 22-24, the Sikh Summit gave community members from around the US the opportunity to hold a meaningful dialogue and promote solutions about important civil and human rights issues such as:
* Hate and bias crimes
* Bullying in schools
* Increasing security and vigilance at Sikh Temples in the U.S. after the shooting massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin
* Right to turbans at airports and in the military
* Employment discrimination at the workplace and in armed forces
* Racial and religious profiling
* Increasing and correcting school textbook information about Sikhs
* Including Sikhs in the U.S. Census
* Stopping the ban on turbans in France
In April 2013, the American Sikh Congressional Caucus was launched and now consists of over 30 congressmen from both sides of the aisle. To assure this new resource was properly utilized, United Sikhs and Sikh community attendees met with caucus members and other congressmen to discuss ways in which the caucus can band together to push for the issues faced by the community. Several proposals and ideas were discussed during these meetings and further action in this regard will be taken in the months to come.
Sikh community attendees with Congressman David Valadao, co-chair for American Sikh Congressional Caucus
“I was honored to participate in the United Sikhs Annual Sikh Summit this year. I represent a district that is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in the United States,” said Congressman David Valadao, co-chair of the American Sikh Caucus. “American-Sikhs have a very strong presence in our community and their impact on American society is significant. I am proud to provide the Sikh community with a voice in Washington and will continue to work with my colleagues to address the unique issues this community faces.”
Susan Herman, President of the American Civil Liberties Union, added, “At the United Sikhs’ Summit I was honored to accept the award to the ACLU for our extensive work on behalf of Sikhs and to express my thanks to United Sikhs for standing with us and supporting our work toward the goal of religious freedom and equality for all.”
In addition to these meetings, a banquet dinner was held in honor of the Sikh Summit. The theme of the evening was “Celebrating a Journey from Inspiration to Success.” Speakers included: Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman David Valadao (co-chairs for American Sikh Congressional Caucus), Congressman Mike Honda and Congressman Jerry McNerney (members of American Sikh Congressional Caucus), Jeffrey Woodrum (staffer for Rep. Joseph Crowley), Hilary Sheldon (Director of NAACP), Paul Monteiro (Associate Director for White House Office of Public Engagement), Susan Herman (President of the American Civil Liberties Union), and Daniel Mach (Director of ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief) along with numerous members of the Sikh community.
The three-day Summit concluded with United Sikhs Policy Advocate, Anisha Singh, along with four other community activists being invited to the White House to be a part of President Barack Obama’s announcement and support of immigration reform legislation which was headed to the House of Representatives for a vote.
“Despite the government shutdown, this year’s annual Sikh Summit brought more meetings than ever before with congressional members,” said Anisha Singh. “Over 100 Sikh community members from around the world attended our banquet dinner. It is an honor to have both chairs of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. David Valadao, speak to our community. Their words of support and encouragement reassured our community that having these dialogues is imperative as we work together to push for change for the betterment of the Sikh community. A very humbling close to the summit was a visit to the White House to hear President Barack Obama speak on his support for the current immigration reform legislation.”