Washington: For the first time, Sikhs in the US will be counted as a separate ethnic group in the 2020 census, an organisation of the minority community said on Tuesday, describing it as a milestone moment.
President of the Sikh Society of San Diego Baljeet Singh said 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," he said.
Describing this as a milestone, the United Sikhs said that this will be the first time the minority group will be counted and coded in the decennial US Census.
A delegation of the United Sikhs has held several meetings with the US Census in the recent past with the last one being on January 6 in San Diego.
"It's clear that a separate code is needed to ensure an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States, recognising a unique identity," said US 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," said Shagufta Ahmed with the Census Bureau and Office of Management Budget.
According to the United Sikhs, the current estimates of Sikhs living in the US are at 10 lakhs.
Sikhs meet the criteria for representation in the US Census as a distinct ethnic group and have a distinct unified appearance, culture, language, food and history.
The United Sikhs has advocated for the separate coding for more than two decades and filed commentary with the US 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.
"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 organisations and institutions to address the unanticipated challenges of the 2020 Census," he said.
Meanwhile, the Sikh Coalition has partnered with the Census Bureau for the 2020 census.
This is because Sikhs have traditionally been a 'hard to count' population in the United States, said Satjeet Kaur, Sikh Coalition executive director.
"Our community matters, and we want to make sure that Sikh families are appropriately counted and accurately resourced wherever they are across our country," she said.