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The Sikh Coalition News
November 1, 2021
  • New Resource for Sikh Asylum Seekers and Legal Professionals

    November 1, 2021 -- Today, as we reflect on 37 years since state-sanctioned anti-Sikh violence devastated the sangat in India, the Sikh Coalition released Well-Founded Fear: Understanding Legal Challenges and Best Practices for Sikh Asylum Applicants and Their Attorneys in partnership with our counsel at the Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic and Harvard Law School’s Religious Freedom Clinic along with the support of community experts and immigration attorney and Legal Advisory Committee member Deepak Ahluwalia.

    The purpose of this comprehensive report is to provide practical guidance to individuals navigating the asylum process as well as context into the plight Sikh asylum seekers face in India, both for those in the legal profession and individuals who are representing themselves. While the Sikh Coalition does not provide direct legal services on asylum or immigration cases, we encourage sangat members to share this new resource with those who may be in need of assistance.

    “Sikhs seeking asylum in the United States face a complicated judicial process that may not recognize the historical, political, and social context of their experiences,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “Similarly, attorneys working in this space may not have all of the information they need to accurately and effectively assist those asylum seekers. We are grateful to our partners at Stanford Law School and Harvard Law School for their collaboration on this important new tool, which should help fill this knowledge gap for those in urgent need of practical guidance and resources.”

    The asylum report includes five major sections. The first details the history of the Sikh tradition and the legacy of persecution that have led some Sikhs to flee India. The second part discusses the challenges that many Sikhs in India face today through an overview of case studies. Part three outlines the U.S. asylum process in greater detail. Part four draws from recent case law and experiences to highlight asylum challenges specific to Sikh applicants and their advocates. And the final section offers a brief review.

    “It was an honor to partner with the Sikh Coalition to produce this important resource,” said Jim Sonne, a professor of law at Stanford Law School and the founding director of its Religious Liberty Clinic. “Religious freedom is a universal value, but those fleeing persecution and those charged with providing asylum from it need tools like those provided in this report to make such freedom an active and human reality.”

    The Sikh Coalition recognizes that immigration is a long-standing and complex issue. Even though immigration policy is not a primary focus area of our work, we are committed to ensuring that impacted community members’ civil rights are protected. ​​In 2019, The Sikh Coalition began working on the immigration crisis by advocating on behalf of Sikh detainees who were suffering civil rights abuses in detention centers; this work included filing a complaint with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (“ICE”), testifying before Congress, rallying partner organizations in a day of action to support Sikh and Cuban detainees, and revising the Punjabi version of the National Detainee Handbook. We continue to partner with and provide support to other immigration and civil rights organizations, specifically on detention-related civil rights issues involving Sikhs in the United States.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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