Importance of Census Data for Sikh American Issues

As the vote in the Senate nears, the Census Project wanted us to prepare a report that shows how data from the American Community Survey (ACS) is used by the Sikh community. Here was our submission:


The American Community Survey (ACS) is a valuable tool used by UNITED SIKHS. The removal of this data from our organization would hinder our ability to see what our constituency entails and how it is growing.  The results of the Census are the only uniform measure of population, socio-economic, and housing data for the United States. The data is used to determine the issues of importance for the people. Specifically, it is of special importance for minority communities to study the trends and patterns of growth and to better understand the needs of the communities, based on numbers rather than estimations.

As a distinctly separate ethnicity, with anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Sikhs in the United States, Sikhs are a minority community that relies on the Census to better understand the needs of its community. Particularly, in 2010, UNITED SIKHS petitioned to have the Census provide a code for Sikhs to be identified as its own ethnicity. This would further expand our knowledge of our constituents’ size and needs. Until this code is provided, we have asked the Sikh community to write in “Sikh” under “Other Race” on Question No. 9 of the Census.

UNITED SIKHS has worked hard to advocate for Sikhs to be a separate race in the Census and the complete removal of ACS would reverse our efforts. After the suffering for a lack of recognition by government, being correctly enumerated by the Census Bureau is a very important step towards resolving the lack of recognition.


Since beginning our immigration into the United States over 130 years ago, Sikhs have faced many forms of discrimination by the general public and government. In the early 20th century, Sikhs were unable to go to public establishments and restaurants, were ridiculed publicly, and often subjected to physical harassment. Post 9/11, Sikhs have been targets of hate crimes from the general public, and have been subjected to unlawful racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement due to our appearance. It is very difficult for the Sikh community to engage political representatives, agencies, and law enforcement on these issues when we are unable to correctly state how many Sikhs there are. It is also difficult to promote awareness of the Sikh community, or to tackle the problems of the community through assistance from government, without an official enumeration. With the ability to write in “Sikh” in the “other race” category, UNITED SIKHS has the ability to get some count. However, the complete removal of ACS data would make our efforts in these matters impossible to pursue.

The United States prides itself on its progressiveness and inclusivity, from its foundation of “We the People,” and it is important to continue to have accurate counts of all the people in the country.


One Comment

  1. […] the number of  Sikhs in America has been one of the more vexing issues for the Sikh American community. Because the US Census survey does not ask questions around […]