UNITED SIKHS, along with other organizations like Sikh Coalition and the South Asian Coalition of organizations, SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) contacted Karem Humes last year to discuss the coding methodology for Census 2010. The letter sent by Ms. Humes in reply stated that even if a person writes in “Sikh” on the census form, the person would be automatically counted as “Asian Indian.”
However, after receipt of the letter, UNITED SIKHS did not drop the issue. It is important that the Sikh community together join hands to advocate for this cause. And dropping the issue does not help.
UNITED SIKHS legal team worked extensively for almost 3 months with Minority Rights Group International (MRG), an international NGO working primarily on minority rights issues which is in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This paper discusses why Sikhs are eligible for a separate code and why Sikhs must be considered for a separate count.
This paper, along with a petition discussing UNITED SIKHS’ position and signed by leading community members and many Sikh organizations (including Sikh Coalition and SALDEF), was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Director of Census 2010, and the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committee overseeing the Census operations. UNITED SIKHS is yet to receive a response from either agencies.though there is confirmation from 3 out of 4 offices that someone in their team is working on the request.
UNITED SIKHS does not claim that writing in “Sikh” will surely get us a count in 2010. However, as they are yet to receive a response to the petition, there is still hope. The time might be short for 2010, but if we do not pick up the issue now, we will never be able to get the Census’ attention to the matter. Communities that got a code this year did not start their advocacy recently but have been trying for many years to convince the Bureau to give them a separate code. The planning for census starts much earlier. Therefore, even if we want to get a code for 2020, we need to keep up the effort throughout these 10 years.
The reason why UNITED SIKHS is requesting the community to fill in “Sikh” on the Census form either ways is so that we can claim in one voice that we want a separate count. If the number of people writing in “Sikh” is high enough, attention will finally be brought to the issue.
No battle is won in the first attempt and just because the chances of winning in the first shot are low, we cannot drop the ball. We need a comprehensive effort involving all members of the Sikh community throughout the country to work together on this matter to ensure that our children can be identified correctly and receive the recognition that our community deserves for all its contribution to the American society.
Please visit http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-03-02-2010-00.html to read more about the petition and for a link to the petition and the position paper. The petition includes the detailed paper prepared by MRG and UNITED SIKHS. The said petition was submitted to the Director of OMB, Director of Census, and the Chairmen of House and Senate Committees.Please also visit www.sikhamericancensus.org to read more about the census.