Sikhs carve out a niche identity on Capitol Hill
American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: In a first of its kind which would have raised brows within the India Caucus in the House and Senate, an American Sikh Congressional Caucus has been launched.
Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Representative David Valadao (R-CA) announced the launch of the Caucus, with the duo being the co-chairs, with 30 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Indian American California Democrat Congressman Ami Bera, part of the group.
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The Caucus says its purpose is to educate Capitol Hill and the general public about Sikh American issues, and to advocate for its cause within the country. However, the fact remains that this kind of advocacy should be part of the much bigger India Caucus in the House and the Senate, and the mere fact that the Sikh community has felt the need to and managed to eke out a niche identity for themselves, and now has stretched that identity to Capitol Hill, seems to suggest that they see their cause as different from that of the cause of the India Caucuses.
“Today marks the day when Sikh Americans will finally have a unified voice to advocate for them in the United States House of Representatives. This bipartisan caucus, made up of members from California to Virginia, from New Jersey to Arizona, will stand by your side, and fight for you,” said Chu in announcing the Caucus at Capitol Hill.
“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,” she pointed out.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sikhs in the US have experienced a sharp rise in incidents of hate crimes and bullying, with report by Associated Press of more than 700 such incidents over the last decade. Surveys have also found that up to three out of every four Sikh boys in the United States are bullied due to their appearance.
Congressman Valadao noted, “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.”
The effort to create the Caucus was spearheaded by community members HarpreetSandhu and Dr. Pritpal Singh from California, said a release from the Sikh Coalition.
The list of House Reps. who have joined the Caucus are: Democrats – Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Ami Bera, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Rep. John Conyers Jr., Rep. Jim Costa, Rep. John Garamendi, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Rush Holt, Rep. Mike Honda, Rep. Hank Johnson, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Jerry McNerney, Rep. George Miller, Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Rep. Gary Peters, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Jackie Speier, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
From the Republicans, the members are: Rep. David Valadao, Rep. Jeff Denham, Rep. Joe Heck, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Rep. Devin Nunes, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Tom McClintock, and Rep. Pat Meehan.