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WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 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, 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 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 an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States. 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,” said Jasmit Singh, Advocacy Director, UNITED SIKHS. 

“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,” said U.S. Census Deputy Director Ron Jarmin.

“Working with UNITED SIKHS, we understand how this change affects the national Sikh community, leading the Census to add a separate ethnicity code,” said Shagufta Ahmed, National Partnership Program Communication Directorate, Census Bureau. 

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 ethnicity portion. The 2020 U.S. Census is active, and the forms are to be mailed out starting mid-March.  UNITED SIKHS will be working closely with all community members on how to properly fill out the form.  

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”, 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 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. UNITED SIKHS has advocated for the separate coding for more than two decades and has filed commentary with the U.S. Federal Register. UNITED SIKHS has advocated for Sikhs to be added as an ethnic group so that action can 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 Ruben Singh, UNITED SIKHS Census Manager. He also stated, “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 is collected every 10 years, which determines Sikh representation in Congress, addresses certain commercial sector needs and determines how funds are spent towards the Sikh community on things like law enforcement, 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.

Completing the Census is a civic duty every household must engage in for the reasons stated above. It will help document the Sikh American community’s history for future generations to come. We will follow up with more communication and training on the revised 2020 census code. Please follow us on social media for real-time updates and ways to volunteer. If you have any questions, you may reach out to us at contact@unitedsikhs.org 


Jasmit Singh
+1 (858) 414-8844