Is This Sales Clerk Discriminating Against a Sikh Man?
SikhsPAC has been aggressively communicating with federal immigration and US Homeland Security officials following the release of new immigration guidelines which could impact as many as 300,000 Indians living in the United States.
“Our first priority needs to be ensuring the safety and security of every Indian and Sikh living in the United States,” said Gurinder Singh Khalsa, SikhsPAC Chairman.
Khalsa has been working with Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill to ensure that federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents are not targeting individuals based on race. Racial and national origin profiling comes under Attorney General’s office of the states. A move that he encourages Indians and Sikhs in other states to pursue.
“Your state attorney general cannot directly influence federal immigration policy, but he can work to represent residents of his state in cases of discrimination or racial profiling ,” said Khalsa.
While the new guidelines nominally continue the previous administration’s emphasis on targeting criminals, there are significant changes. For example, under the Obama administration, only those convicted of crimes were eligible for targeted deportation. The new rules expand to include anyone charged with a major crime or percieved as a danger to national security by Homeland Security.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about the rules right now,” said Khalsa. “Frankly, we were shocked at the speed with which these changes were made.”
But, he adds, now is not the time to panic.
“We are working tirelessly to seek clarification from federal officials,” said Khalsa. “That effort is stretching our resources to the limit, but we will get answers as quickly as we can.”
It is a time for Indians of all faiths and creeds to work together on this issue, said Khalsa.
“Indians and Indian Americans have a lot of economic influence in the United States,” said Khalsa. “We turned those resources towards ensuring a safe, secure political environment for ourselves and our children.”
Khalsa plans to travel to Washington D.C. in the next few days to meet with members of Congress and the Trump Administration about clarification on these new guidelines.
The tragic death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in a hate crime killing in Kansas is further proof that xenophobic rhetoric can and does have consequences, said Khalsa.
“We all need to work together to ensure that this type of violence is never repeated,” said Khalsa. “We must decide how we will react to attacks like this. It is my hope that this will become an opportunity for Sikhs and all Indians to become more politically active.”
Visit SikhsPAC.com for more information on how you can help.
FRESNO SIKHS LAUNCH ‘WE ARE SIKHS’ CAMPAIGN
Elected officials, community leaders and local Sikhs announced
advertising and grassroots effort at Fresno City Hall
VIDEO OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE
FRESNO, CA – The Fresno Chapter of the National Sikh Campaign (NSC), along with local community leaders held a press conference to announce We Are Sikhs Fresno, an initiative to improve awareness of the Sikh religion and Sikh Americans in the Fresno community. We Are Sikhs Fresno will feature local, multi-platform advertising, community events and outreach to the local community.
The two television advertisements, ‘Neighbors’ and ‘Proud’ began running in the Fresno media market on June 9. ‘Neighbors’ explains the values of Sikhism and how they are similar to American values. Further, it highlights the important role Sikhs play in the community as doctors, PTA moms and patriots. ‘Proud’ further highlights how Sikh values – such as tolerance, religious freedom and gender equality – go hand in hand with American values. These ads have also been running on CNN and FOX cable networks nationwide.
The event at Fresno City Hall was attended by Members of the Sikh community, Chairman of Fresno County Board of Supervisors Brian Pacheco and Supervisor Buddy Mendes, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Fresno City Council President Clint Olivier, Fresno City Councilmembers Oliver Baines and Esmerelda Soria, Selma City Councilmembers Scott Robertson and Jim Avalos, Clovis City Councilmember Vongsavanh Mouanoutoua, among other distinguished members of the community including the Fresno business community, agricultural leaders and members of the interfaith community.
During the event, Amritpal Singh, a representative of We Are Sikhs Fresno, said, “Sikh Americans have been a part of the fabric of the community of Fresno and every corner of the nation for over 115 years. We know that the United States is the greatest country on the earth and we are proud to call ourselves Americans.”
“I’m honored and proud to stand next to the Sikh community,” added Fresno Mayor Lee Brand. “If you look in our community… you look at doctors, lawyers, successful businesspeople, farmers, every aspect of life, particularly in small business. The Sikh people are family orientated, have family values that stress that the maximum achievement and embody the American Dream.”
Although Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, more than half of Americans know absolutely nothing about the Sikh community. In Fresno, despite a vibrant Sikh community, Sikhs have faced a number of hate crimes in recent years, including: a Sikh being intentionally hit by a car in December 2015 and the murder of a Sikh store clerk in January 2016. Further, 54 percent of Sikh youths in Fresno and nearly 70 percent of turbaned Sikh youths in Fresno have experienced bullying and harassment.
“I am very thankful to everyone who came out today to express support for the launch of the We Are Sikhs Campaign in Fresno.” said Bill Nijjer Singh with the We Are Sikh Campaign. “Beginning June 9 we will start our television advertising and in the next few weeks, you will be seeing us in the community, helping educate our neighbors on the values of Sikhism. We are looking forward to partnering with local groups and community leaders to further inform the community about Sikhism.”
“We are very proud to launch We Are Sikhs Fresno. It is a culmination of a long and a collective effort of the Sikh community nationwide to inform about who we are and why we are proud to wear the turban, a symbol of our community’s commitment to equality and serving others,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, co-founder and senior advisor of the National Sikh Campaign. Fresno, Selma and Visalia Sikh communities have joined this unprecedented national initiative to create better understanding of our community’s presence. We are thankful to all the Gurdwaras and Sikh media groups who have supported this massive task.”
For this PR work for Sikhs, NSC had engaged AKPD, President Obama’s media team and Hart Research Associates, which does strategy work for the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Harvard University. In addition, it has hired FP1 Strategies, a conservative and Republican leaning marketing team which has done strategy work for President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaign and it has done marketing for Facebook and Ford Motor Company. President Bill Clinton’s speech writer planned and edited the content of the website WeareSikhs.org. NSC held fundraising events in 14 cities to garner support from the community and the total cost of this campaign is expected to be $1.3 Million.
The Sikh community has been the target of discrimination, intimidation, harassment and hate crimes since the 9/11 Attacks largely because of a collective misunderstanding of what the turban means in the Sikh faith. Sikhs wear the turban to show their willingness to serve others in the community and their commitment to equality for all people. 99% of individuals wearing turbans in the U.S. are of the Sikh faith.
To learn more about Sikh Americans and Sikhism, please visit www.wearesikhs.org.