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United Sikhs UNITED SIKHS: Sikhs Join New York Interfaith Groups to Advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Discussion in 'Sikh Organisations' started by spnadmin, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    “Being an American is not a matter of blood or birth. It’s a matter of faith.

    It’s a matter of fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear.” – President Barack Obama

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – UNITED SIKHS and several interfaith organizations held a meeting with senior White House officials and a press conference with national news agencies to implore the President to speak for the voiceless and to urge Congress to pass legislation this year. The press conference immediately followed President Obama’s poignant address on the current state of immigration and comprehensive immigration reform and was attended by prominent news agencies.

    UNITED SIKHS joined nearly 600 religious leaders from diverse faith traditions, including Sikhs, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, in delivering a letter urging the President to implement comprehensive immigration reform (the letter is available

    here. The gathering urged the Administration to advocate for our interests and values in addition to reminding them of the moral urgency of passing immigration reform.

    Interfaith Group Photo in Front of White House
    The Interfaith Network gathering and UNITED SIKHS’ contribution focused on issues related to the passing of Arizona law SB-1070 which allows a law-enforcement agent to demand citizenship or residence documentation under ‘reasonable suspicion,’ a vaguely defined term. The implications of this law have already led to increased racial-profiling, both for documented and undocumented immigrants. President Obama’s address attempted to balance the two dramatic extremes – complete amnesty and total deportation, saying “Once we get past the two poles of this debate, it becomes possible to shape a practical, common-sense approach that reflects our heritage and our values. Such an approach demands accountability from everybody -– from government, from businesses and from individuals.”

    Senior Staff Attorney Hansdeep Singh spoke at the gathering outside the White House about injustices that Hispanic, Sikh, and other immigrant communities face because of a broken immigration system. The shockwaves from Arizona’s punitive legislation are being felt in communities across the country. “Recently, Sikh truck drivers who are U.S. citizens have reported being stopped and asked for their immigration papers each time they make deliveries or pass through Arizona,” Mr. Singh said. “This type of racial profiling speaks specifically to the type of collective punishment that is already being assessed against immigrant communities, even when the law is not currently in effect. We must mobilize our communities to work together in safe-guarding the dignity of all immigrant communities.”

    President Obama’s address garnered strong support from the interfaith communities and called for comprehensive immigration reform which would balance national security while preserving civil rights of immigrant communities. “We’ve always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants — a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s precepts”, the President said. “Indeed, it is this constant flow of immigrants that helped to make America what it is.” The President proposed making the immigration process easier by eliminating a backlog in background checks, allowing individuals to track the status of their immigration applications by email or text message in multiple languages, and stemming increases in naturalization fees.

    However, the legislation CANNOT be passed without the grassroots support from all communities. UNITED SIKHS urges Sikhs nationally to contact their representatives and congressmen to show support for comprehensive immigration reform.

    UNITED SIKHS commends Obama Administration's decision to file a lawsuit against Arizona and SB 1070. This movement towards comprehensive immigration reform is crucial to the fabric of the American society. In his speech, emphasizing the important contribution of immigrant communities, the President acknowledged the United States’ role as a safe-haven, quoting, Emma Lazarus’s words engraved on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, and your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free . . . send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    We would like to thank The Interfaith Center of New York and Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, for asking UNITED SIKHS to participate and highlight immigration policies and its impact on the Sikh community. Also, none of this would be possible without the organizers of this event: Kristin Williams, Press Secretary of Faith in Public Life; Katie Paris, Program and Communications Director of Faith in Public Life; Allison Johnson, Campaign Coordinator of Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform; and Stephanie Grosser, Assistant Director of HIAS.
    And finally, UNITED SIKHS would like to highlight those members who participated in the press conference and meeting with White House representatives: Lisa Sharon Harper, Executive Director of New York Faith and Justice; Ellen Greely, Development Director of The Interfaith Center of New York; Rev. Gary Wiley, evangelical pastor at Grace Trinity Church in New York; Rev. Ray Rivera, President and CEO of the Latino Pastoral Action Center in the Bronx; Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director of the Greater New York Labor -Religion Coalition; Dr. Diane Steinman, co-chair of the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform; Sarah Sayeed, Program Associate of The Interfaith Center of New York, Jane Ramsey, Executive Director of Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and Richard T. Foltin, Director of National and Legislative Affairs with American Jewish Committee.

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