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American Sikhs Encourage U.S. Census Bureau to Include Sikhs in 2020 Census

13WASHINGTON, DC: A coalition of American Sikhs and Sikh organizations are advocating to have “Sikh” formally recognized as a separate ethnic category in the 2020 U.S. Census. A large number of public requests have already been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget as they solicit public comments on how racial and ethnic data is reported.
The U.S. Census is a constitutionally mandated program and is taken every ten years. The data collected is used by federal agencies for a number of policy decisions; including how congressional seats are drawn and to help guide how federal funds are spent. For over a decade, Sikh community representatives have expressed their concerns about how Sikhs have not been counted by the U.S. Census. Thousands of Sikhs joined a 2009 write-in effort to include Sikhs in the 2010 Census.
Estimates suggest the Sikh population of California is over 200,000 people and over 400,000 nationally. Supporters note that Sikhs have been recognized as an ethnicity in more than 60 countries worldwide and have a common literature, language, faith, and a distinct identity, among many other qualifiers that make the Sikh community a distinct and recognizable community.
“Including Sikhs in the U.S. Census will help protect our rights as Americans,” said Bhajan Singh, founding director of the Organization for Minorities of India. “Denying Sikhs their own ethnic category undermines the benefits and intentions of the entire U.S. Census program.”
Census information is also used as a tool to measure the effectiveness of civil rights statutes, including voting, employment, housing, lending, education and anti-discrimination laws. Sikh advocates have argued that the accuracy of the Census directly affects the nation’s ability to ensure equal representation and protection under federal jurisdictions. After 9/11, Sikhs were often targeted as victims of hate crimes, bullying, and racial profiling.

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