July 14, 2022 (New York, NY) -- After more than a year of coordination between government officials and Sikh community advocates, the Sikh Coalition is pleased to report the safe arrival of one multigenerational Afghan Sikh family to New York via the United States Significant Public Benefit Parole Program. The program enables them to stay for at least one year while the Sikh Coalition facilitates immigration legal services to assist with long term settlement in the United States.
The Sikh Coalition continues to advocate for the Humanitarian and Significant Public Benefit Parole Programs to be made accessible to all Afghan Sikh and Hindu families, though that is not currently the case. In order to protect this family, the Sikh Coalition will not share any specific information about the family at this time. Additionally, we urge other organizations, community members, and media outlets to avoid reporting on the specifics of any Afghan Sikh and Hindu families’ movements in order to ensure the safety of those still seeking a safe path out of Afghanistan.
“I want to thank the Sikh Coalition for working with our local sangat to facilitate this family’s evacuation from Afghanistan via India,” said Paramjit Singh Bedi, Co-Chair of Guru Nanak Darbar of Long Island, founding member of My Family My Responsibility, and Chairman of the Afghanistan Committee of Global Sikh Council. “I also want to thank the Trustees and Committee members of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar London for providing full financial support for this family--especially S. Gurmeet Singh, Trustee, whose leadership was essential to this effort. Many Afghan Sikhs and Hindus remain in danger, and it is our responsibility--and that of the U.S. government--to ensure that they are brought to the United States for a chance at a brighter future.”
Since the March 2020 attack on a Kabul gurdwara
, the Sikh Coalition has worked with key Sikh community leaders to raise the profile of the crisis facing the Afghan Sikh and Hindu community while also urging
the U.S. government to take action. This work intensified
during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan almost one year ago. Since that withdrawal began, organizations across the world have advocated for the evacuation and permanent resettlement of this community. In the year since, the Sikh Coalition has stayed in regular contact with U.S. State Department officials around the world in order to continue advocating for the safe resettlement of these community members to the United States. The successful efforts to resettle this specific Sikh family to New York would not have been possible without the leadership and unwavering commitment of the Long Island sangat.
“Our gurdwara is proud to lend a hand in the effort to aid this family,” said Mohan Singh, President of the Guru Nanak Darbar of Long Island. “This sangat is committed to providing direct resources and support to them for as long as it takes to make their resettlement here in the United States a permanent one.”
The few Afghan Sikhs and Hindus physically in Afghanistan are still under threat, and the risk of targeted attacks by extremists persists--including as recently as a June 18 assault
on a Kabul gurdwara. Still others have been temporarily resettled to third-party countries like India, where many remain in a state of limbo with limited access to equal rights, education, or economic opportunity.
“Further attacks on or discrimination against Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are tragic, unacceptable, and completely avoidable,” said Sim J. Singh Attariwala, Sikh Coalition Senior Policy & Advocacy Manager. “Resettling the remaining families to the United States is one clear way for them to find security, opportunity, and community. The Biden Administration must live up to their previous promise to help this community in urgent need.”
While our hearts break for the tens of thousands of Afghans from all faith backgrounds who continue to be in harm’s way, we continue to do our part by advocating for this small community so they are not left behind or forgotten by U.S. authorities--especially as the one-year anniversary of the withdrawal approaches next month.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.