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USA Sikh Appointed As Presidential Advisor


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
WASHINGTON - Amardeep Singh, co-founder of the Sikh Coalition, was appointed to the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and given a mandate to work on civil rights issues.

Amardeep Singh of Hoboken, New Jersey, was appointed on Sept. 16 to the President's Advisory Commission for Asian American and Pacific Islanders. He was sworn-in, along with 16 other commissioners, at a ceremony on Capitol Hill on Sept. 21.

Amardeep Singh is the co-founder and presently the Director of Programs at the Sikh Coalition, the nation's largest Sikh civil rights organization.

Prior to joining the Sikh Coalition in 2002, Mr. Singh worked as a Researcher in the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch (HRW). While at HRW, he authored its report, “We Are Not the Enemy: Hate Crimes Against Arabs, Muslims, and Those Perceived to be Arab or Muslim after September 11.”

Mr. Singh was also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race where he taught a course on the intersection of ethnic identity and the law.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the South Asian Bar Association of New York. Mr. Singh holds a B.A. from Rutgers University and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Asian Indian: Population is 2.73 million
8.1 percent live in poverty
3.6 percent are unemployed
10.0 percent haven't graduated high school
10.5 percent have only a high school degree
11.3 percent have some college education
31.9 percent have a bachelor's degree
36.3 percent have a graduate or professional degree

Pakistani: Population is 349,685
15.0 percent live in poverty
4.3 percent are unemployed
14.6 percent haven't graduated high school
14.5 percent have only a high school degree
16.0 percent have some college education
30.4 percent have a bachelor's degree
24.5 percent have a graduate or professional degree

Source: 2008 American Community Survey; Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008; Population estimates 2010 Census
At the swearing-in ceremony Tuesday night on Capitol Hill, he was among the 17 new commissioners charged with finding ways for these communities to have increased access to and participation in federal programs, where they remain under served.

“Given my background, the focus of the advice that I will be giving the president and the administration is going to be on the issue of civil rights,” Amardeep said, following the ceremony. “And I’m happy to say that the commission is quite committed to addressing the issue of school bullying, …specifically the South Asian and Sikh communities. We are also going to be addressing issues of hate crimes, working with the commission to do as much as we can to prevent bias and discrimination going up to the 9/11 10-year anniversary.”

These are some of the commitments the commission has been making during the course of the last two days, since its appointment on Sept. 16.

“Our nation will be well-served by the skill and dedication these men and women bring to their new roles, President Obama said in a White House news release. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

The commission will work collaboratively with the White House Office of Public Engagement and designated federal agencies to increase Asian American and Pacific Islander participation in programs concerning civil rights, economic development (loans), sustainable (green) initiatives, educational opportunities and healthcare access.

“How many community members are aware that on Thursday, Sept. 23, everyone in our community who is up to 26-years-old can get on their parents’ healthcare plan?” Amardeep said, as an example. “A lot of kids in college have no idea that they have access. That law is changing and our community needs to know that.

“Our job is to advise the president on how the White House, in particular, can play a role in ensuring that the community is connected to the White House and that the White House is connected to the community,” Amardeep Singh added. “We’ll be reaching out to the community to get a sense from them on what is important for them so that we can report to the president in a way that is helpful.”

The commissioners serve the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, which was originally formed under President Clinton and revived by executive order in October 2009. The initiative’s goal is to improve the quality of life and opportunities for these communities by collaborating with top government agency officials and community leaders in roundtable discussions.

Mike Honda, D-California, was the keynote speaker at the commissioners’ swearing-in ceremony. He represents the 15th congressional district in northern California, which has a large Sikh population. Honda has been a stalwart supporter of the Sikh community for many years and has appeared at events hosted by several Sikh advocacy groups, including the Sikh Coalition.

Honda also is chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which worked for several years to revive this initiative, Honda said.

When it came time to select the commissioners, Amardeep Singh, Honda’s longtime acquaintance from the Sikh Coalition, was a logical choice.

“Asian American communities have been left out of the debate and do not even exist in the consciousness of some of our national leaders,” Honda said at the ceremony. “When we hear our national leaders talk about politics, they say African Americans, Latinos and others. We say: Asian, Pacific Americans. When we say that, we exist.

“We will continue to do that work and insist upon understanding disparities and lacks that we have in different agencies. They have very heavy work. But I think that, with their background, collectively, they can do it.

“We’re privileged to work side-by-side with the Obama administration to ensure our communities’ seat at the table.”

The commission is chaired by Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and is housed within the education department. Kiran Ahuja is the executive director.



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Dec 17, 2007
Dear SPN Admin - please correct the typo - it should be Amardeep Singh not Amandeep Singh.


hpannu ji Done! Thanks for catching it!

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
I am very happy to see Amardeep Singh ji being selected. His voice will make a difference for all of us. I happen to know him personally. He is a gem of a person and one of the hardest working I have ever met.

Congratulations Amardeep! Your foot in the door will make it wide open for many Sikhs of future generations.

Tejwant Singh



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