June 17 2010
3rd Haarh (Samvat 542 Nanakshahi)
Press Release

Sikh Community's Concerns Regarding TSA Policies Presented at House Judiciary Subcommittee

"Racial profiling threatens the very fabric of our nation's civil rights protections. UNITED SIKHS' work to expose the consequences that heightened security measures have had on the Sikh community is informative and instructive. I look forward to continuing our collaborative effort to fight injustice and discrimination in our country."  - Congresswoman Judy Chu

Washington, DC: Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA – 32) introduced a written testimony on behalf of UNITED SIKHS at the House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties on June 17, 2010 addressing concerns of racial profiling of Sikhs at airports. Unfortunately, as our community knows, Sikhs have routinely faced discriminatory practices at airports across United States. UNITED SIKHS submitted a written testimony on racial profiling geared toward Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policies that unfairly targeted Sikhs. This testimony emphasized the inconsistent policies regarding secondary inspections by Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), the lack of training, oversight, and unfettered discretion of TSOs, and the unfair targeting of a community that presents no national security risk to the U.S.

Judy Chu "Racial profiling threatens the very fabric of our nation's civil rights protections," said Chu. "UNITED SIKHS' work to expose the consequences that heightened security measures have had on the Sikh community is informative and instructive.I look forward to continuing our collaborative effort to fight injustice and discrimination in our country." The Congresswoman suggested that TSA work to fix these problems by introducing legislation to allow private action and get data, and then announced she would be writing a letter to TSA asking them for data about complaints and racial profiling for Sikhs and all other ethnic groups.

A delegation of Sikh community members had met with Congresswoman Judy Chu as part of the week long Sikh Summit in Washington, DC, during which Sikh community members had talked about their concerns regarding existing TSA screening policies.

Jaspreet Singh, Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS, has emphasized to Congresswoman Chu that "security policies that debase the Sikh community lead to the untenable choice of either maintaining their dignity or restricting their freedom of movement." Freedom of movement is a fundamental human right and if government restrictions become barriers to this fundamental human right, then Sikhs must stand united to condemn these policies.

An additional issue related to heightened security measures is that of Sikhs starting to experience increased delays and secondary inspections after they visit "high risk" countries, such as Pakistan. Recognizing that many Sikh historical Gurdwaras are in Pakistan, we have informed government agencies that Sikhs are unfairly being pulled aside for invasive inspections of their papers, technological items, and baggage when returning from Pakistan or even subsequent overseas trips thereafter. The UNITED SIKHS legal team recognizes the importance of national security; however, we advocate implementing intelligence based security measures which will efficiently work toward ensuring safety and remove the onus from specific communities and ethnic groups.

UNITED SIKHS is grateful to Congresswoman Chu for the opportunity to present the Sikh community's viewpoint and would also like to commend Amardeep Singh, Sikh Coalition, for testifying at the hearing at which he spoke convincingly about the effects of TSA policies on the Sikh community.

For a previous press release on Sikh civil and human rights advocacy, please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-11-05-2010-00.html

Issued by:
Hansdeep Singh
Senior Staff Attorney
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UNITED SIKHS encourages the Sikh community to wear their kakaars, fearlessly exercise their freedom of religion, and to contact us with any problems, concerns, or incidents of discrimination.

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