HISTORIC VICTORY: SIKHS TO BE COUNTED
AS SEPARATE ETHNIC GROUP IN U.S. CENSUS 2020
UN-Associated NGO Announces Historic Advocacy Victory for Inclusion
of Sikh Americans in the Decennial United States Complete Count Census
as a result of decades of advocacy.
VaaheGuroo Ji Ka Khalsa, VaaheGuroo Ji Ki Fateh
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On January 6, 2020, a follow-up meeting at San Diego State University with the U.S. Census Bureau leadership was conducted as a part of an on-going series of meetings since 2010 asking for the Sikhs to be recognized as a separate ethnic group. UNITED SIKHS today is proud to announce that the United States 2020 Census will include coding for Sikhs, which means that Sikh Americans will be counted as a separate ethnic group. This announcement is a milestone for America’s Sikh Community, as this will be the first time the minority group will be counted and coded in the decennial U.S. Census that is conducted every 10 years.
“The Sikh community’s efforts have come to fruition. This has paved the way forward nationally not only for the Sikh community but also for other ethnicities in the United States”, said Baljeet Singh, President of Sikh Society of San Diego. “This historic announcement is the result of decades of advocacy by UNITED SIKHS at the national level on behalf of the Sikh community. Being involved in this civic engagement will help ensure in having an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States. This data tracks and combats hate crimes against the community. It also ensures equal and accurate representation that provides access to members of Congress and other essential government services,” said Jasmit Singh, Advocacy Director, UNITED SIKHS.
“It’s clear that a separate code is needed to ensure an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States, recognizing a unique identity,” said U.S. Census Deputy Director Ron Jarmin. “Working with UNITED SIKHS, we understand how this change affects the national Sikh community, leading us to add this code for the 2020 Census.” Shagufta Ahmed with the Census Bureau and Office of Management Budget.
In order to be properly counted in the 2020 U.S. Census, UNITED SIKHS is educating the national Sikh community to write in “Sikh” under the ethnic portion. If you prefer to identify as a Sikh American, Sikh Indian or Sikh Pakistani those all will be counted distinctively. The 2020 U.S. Census is active and live. There will be forms mailed to addresses starting now and for the next upcoming months. UNITED SIKHS will be working closely with community members in how to identify themselves and how to properly fill out the form. You are encouraged to reach out to UNITED SIKHS and the Census Bureau if you do not receive a unique identifier code. UNITED SIKHS can advise individuals on a case by case basis.
Sikh Americans can trace their ancestry in the U.S. back to the 1880’s. Many Sikhs came to California to work on the railroads, agriculture, technology, and other industries. Sikhs continue to face bias, racism and xenophobia. Previously the U.S. Census grouped Sikhs into a general Asian-Indian category in the “2010” US Census and this ignores the unique circumstances facing the Sikhs. “After the 2015 survey”, U.S. Census Director Nicholas Jones from Race & Ethnic Research and Outreach Population Division stated, “We realized the need and importance to include Sikh ethnicity in surveys moving forward”.
Current estimates of Sikhs living in the United States are at 1 million Sikh Americans with +1/-1 margin of error. Sikhs meet the criteria for representation in the U.S. Census as a distinct ethnic group and have a distinct unified appearance, culture, language, food and history. UNITED SIKHS has advocated for the separate coding for more than two decades and filed commentary with the U.S. Federal Register advocating for Sikhs to be added as an ethnic group, in large part, so that action can be taken to address major Sikh issues such as bullying, intimidation and hate crimes against the community.
At the municipal level, UNITED SIKHS National outreach coalition will work with community partners and the Census 2020 leaders again for translation and outreach services to the Sikh American community coast-to-coast.
“With the 2020 census approaching, many historically undercoded communities will be at-risk for being under-counted and under-served,” said Ruben Singh, UNITED SIKHS Census Manager. “We look forward to collaborating with our census partners and other Sikh organizations and institutions to address the unanticipated challenges of the 2020 Census.”
Census data, collected every 10 years, determines Sikh representation in Congress in the commercial sector and it determines how funds are spent in the Sikh community on things like roads, schools, education, Punjabi language and hospitals.
The Census Bureau is hiring now for many opportunities like Census takers. In the effort for ensuring a full count for the 2020 Census, please click here to visit job postings for outreach and education support by the census board.