Sikhs to be counted in United States 2020 Census

The census data will help in tracking and measuring hate crimes against the community, as well ensure equal and accurate representation of Sikhs - UNITED SIKHS

Photo: United Sikhs press release
By Asia Samachar Team UNITED STATES  |

Sikh Americans will be counted for the first time as a separate ethnic in the up-coming United States 2020 Census.

The census, taking place on 1 April, will include coding for Sikhs, said humanitarian aid agency United Sikhs.

It described the breakthrough as a milestone for America’s Sikh community as it will allow Sikhs to 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 Sikh Society of San Diego president Baljeet Singh in the press release issued by the United Sikhs.

SEE: United Sikhs press release, Historic Victory: Sikhs To Be Counted As Separate Ethnic Group In U.S. Census 2020, dated 13 Jan 2020

United Sikhs advocacy director Jasmit Singh said census data will help in tracking and measuring hate crimes against the community.

“It will also ensure equal and accurate representation of Sikhs. This is useful in providing access to members of Congress and other essential government services for the needs of the community,” he said.

In the same press release, U.S. Census deputy director Ron Jarmin says: “A separate code recognizes the unique identity of Sikhs and gives us an opportunity to have an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States to better serve the community’s needs.”

When checked by Asia Samachar, the census website came back blank when searched for ‘Sikh’ and ‘Sikhism’.

In Britain, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) late last year decided that there was not a case for including a Sikh box in the ethnicity category, with one Sikh organisation hauling the body to the courts on the matter.

The US census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support to individuals and communities. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data, according to information at the bureau website.

The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency.

In order to be properly counted in the up-coking census, United Sikhs said it was educating the national Sikh community to write in “Sikh” under the ethnicity portion. The 2020 U.S. Census is active, and the forms are to be mailed out starting mid-March.

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.

“After the 2015 survey, we realized the need and importance to include Sikh ethnicity in surveys moving forward,” said U.S. Census director Nicholas Jones from Race & Ethnic Research and Outreach Population Division.

Current estimates of Sikhs living in the US is close to a million.

Sikhs meet the criteria for representation in the U.S. Census as a distinct ethnic group. Sikhs have a distinct unified appearance, culture, language (Gurmukhi), food and history, the statement added.

United Sikhs said it has advocated for the separate coding for more than two decades and has filed commentary with the U.S. Federal Register. The move would allow action to be taken to address Sikh issues of significance 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 for translation and outreach services to the Sikh American community coast-to-coast.

“With the 2020 census approaching, many historically under-coded communities will be at-risk for being under-counted and under-served,” said United Sikhs census manager Ruben Singh.

Describing completing the census as a ‘civic duty every household must engage in’, United Sikhs said the census will help document the Sikh American community’s history for future generations to come.



Arguments for and against a Sikh ethnic category in UK Census (Asia Samachar, 13 Dec 2019)

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