Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Californians in Congress create Sikh Caucus, observe Armenian Genocide

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A pair of California House members have announced the formation of a new group to acknowledge a large religious group in California: the Sikh Caucus.

Nearly 40 percent of the nation's estimated Sikh population --an estimated 250,000 -- live in California. Early immigrants worked on the railroad and farms in California's Central Valley. The first Sikh Temple built in California, Gurdwara, opened in 1912. 

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, and Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, will co-chair the new caucus, an informal group created to educate members of Congress and the general public about American Sikh issues.

“More than a decade after 9/11, too many Sikhs across America face discrimination, bullying, and even bias-motivated violence from misguided individuals associating them with the terrorist attacks,” Chu said Wednesday. “This caucus will be the voice for American Sikhs in the House of Representatives."

According to the Associated Press, Sikhs have been targeted in more than 700 violent incidents over the last decade, including a shooting at a Sikh temple last year in Wisconsin.

Also on Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, made a speech on the House floor - in Armenian to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. An estimated million and a half Armenians were killed in 1915 by the Ottoman government and Schiff's district is home to a large Armenian-American community in Glendale.

"I speak to you in the language of the survivors who came to America for freedom and made a new life," he said. “I speak to you in the language of those who were lost. Their voices drift across the decades, begging us to remember."

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