Today, Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21) and Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27) announced the formation of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus. Representatives Valadao and Chu will co-chair the new caucus, which will educate Members of Congress and the general public about Sikh issues and support the American Sikh community.
Congressman Valadao stated, "The Central Valley is home to more than 25,000 Sikhs, the largest population in the United States. Just in my district, California's 21st Congressional District, there are at least seven Gurdwaras. Our local library in Kerman houses the largest collection of Punjabi books in the United States. Sikhs have a very strong presence in our communities and have made great contributions to our society. I am excited and honored that I will be able to represent the Sikh community in Washington and am looking forward to working with my colleagues to address the unique issues this community faces."
Congresswoman Chu continued, "More than a decade after 9/11, too many Sikhs across America face discrimination, bullying, and even bias-motivated violence from misguided individuals associating them with the terrorist attacks," said Rep. Chu. "This caucus will be the voice for American Sikhs in the House of Representatives, working across the aisle to address the unique challenges that this community faces. I thank Congressman Valadao for joining me in this endeavor and the 28 other Members of Congress lending their voices to this cause. Together, we will preserve religious freedom, protect the safety of all people, and celebrate America's diversity."
American Sikhs 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. But following the attacks on September 11th, some Sikh Americans have faced increased levels of discrimination and even violence from individuals who mistakenly believe they are associated with terrorist attacks on the United States. The Associated Press reports that more than 700 such incidents took place over the last decade. The shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI last year is a tragic example of why Congress must focus on issues impacting American Sikhs.
Moving forward, the caucus intends to address the following issues impacting the American Sikh community:
- Military discrimination preventing American Sikhs from enlisting due to restrictive appearance regulations that ban turbans.
- Violence against American Sikhs that has increased in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001.
- Bullying being experienced by as many as three in every four Sikh boys.
- Racial profiling due to well-intentioned but misguided law enforcement policies.