U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) joined House colleagues in launching the American Sikh Congressional Caucus. Representatives David Valadao (CA-21) and Judy Chu (CA-32) will co-chair the new caucus, which will educate Members of Congress and the general public about Sikh issues in support of the American Sikh community.
"The Sikh American community plays an influential role in the Central Valley region's economy and culture," said Denham. "It's always been a top priority of mine to ensure every voice of our rich and diverse community is heard, and I'm honored to join this bipartisan effort."
American Sikhs have contributed to the strength and diversity of the United States for over 130 years, starting businesses and becoming active leaders in our local communities. But following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, some Sikh Americans have faced increased levels of discrimination and even violence from individuals who mistakenly believe they are associated with terrorist attacks on the United States. The Associated Press reported that more than 700 such incidents took place over the last decade. The shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis. last year is a tragic example of why Congress must focus on issues impacting American Sikhs, according to the caucus.
Moving forward, the caucus intends to address the following issues impacting the American Sikh community:
• Military discrimination preventing American Sikhs from enlisting due to restrictive appearance regulations that ban turbans.
• Violence against American Sikhs that has increased in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
• Bullying being experienced by as many as three in every four Sikh boys.
• Racial profiling due to well-intentioned but misguided law enforcement policies.