Seeking the Sikh truck drivers

Many people assume that their family immigrated to the United States legally, or did it ‘the right way.’

Sikh-TruckdriverOver Thanksgiving weekend, CBS News ran a story, at least twice, about a nationwide shortage of truck drivers. To my surprise, more than 30,000 Indian-American Sikhs have entered the trucking industry just in the past two years.

“More than 50,000 drivers are needed to meet the demand. One group of drivers, Indian-Americans who practice the Sikh faith, may well be a big part of the solution…

“‘For Sikhs, they want to keep their articles of faith, turban, unshaven hair, beard, moustache — it’s a safety hazard for a lot of jobs that require it. So in trucking, they can keep everything, and still make a decent living,'” trucker Mintu Pandher indicated.

“Pandher bought a used tractor-trailer 13 years ago. Now he owns nine rigs, plus a truck stop in Laramie. With so many Sikh truck drivers, he even added a Sikh temple to his truck stop. And his kitchen offers Indian specials that attract new fans as well.

“But it’s more than a friendly truck stop that’s drawing Sikhs to a career behind the wheel. Recruiting videos that look like something straight from Bollywood promise a glamorous future…”

Overdrive magazine notes “Sikhs have been a growing part of America’s professional driver force for three decades.” The Economist indicates the Sihks have an “outsize part of Canadian trucking.”

This got me to thinking how desirable a reasonable immigration policy looks like. The idea that we should let in only those with specific skills seems limited, not just for them but for us. After all, those Sikhs didn’t know they were going to become truckers whey started coming to the US in the 1980s.

From the American Immigration Council: “Many people assume that their family immigrated to the United States legally, or did it ‘the right way.’ In most cases, this statement does not reflect the fact that the U.S. immigration system was very different in the past and that their families might not have been allowed to enter had today’s laws been in effect.”

But some things haven’t changed much. Read of the process immigrants went through when they arrived at Ellis Island in the late 1800s. It included waiting and long lines, a barrage of questions, detention, and hearings

“The definition of who is ‘legal’ — and who is not — changes with the evolution of immigration laws. In some cases, claiming that a family came ‘legally’ is simply inaccurate — unauthorized immigration has been a reality for generations.”

Listen to Immigration Man – Graham Nash

Won’t you let me in, immigration man
Can I cross the line and pray
I can stay another day

S is for Sikhism (ABC Wednesday)

There are roughly 700,000 Sikhs in the U.S. today

Everyone at my place of employment received this email message this past winter:

Special Reports: Sikhism

The word Sikh (pronounced “sickh”) means ‘disciple’ or ‘learner.’ The Sikh religion was founded in Northern India in the fifteenth century by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and is distinct from Islam and Hinduism. Sikhism is monotheistic and stresses the equality of all men and women. Sikhs believe in three basic principles; meditating on the name of God (praying), earning a living by honest means, as well as sharing the fruits of one’s labor with others. Sikhism rejects caste and class systems and emphasizes service to humanity.

Sikhs at a Glance

Sikhs have been in the U.S. for over 100 years
There are roughly 700,000 Sikhs in the U.S. today
Sikhism is the world’s fifth largest religion with 25 million adherents worldwide
Sikhs believe in one God, equality, freedom of religion, community service and nonviolence
Sikhism is a distinct religion, separate from Hinduism and Islam
99% of people wearing turbans in the U.S. are Sikhs from India
The Sikh turban represents a commitment to equality and justice
Sikhs cover their uncut hair with a turban

For more information:

Who are Sikhs

About Sikhism

System Administration Police recently had the opportunity to engage in an open conversation about Sikhism with a fellow SUNY colleague. Anyone interested in discussing an important topic can email SUNY University Police to set up a meeting.
This, of course, begs the question: what the heck happened to prompt the Special Report?

While not comparable on most terms, I had heard people compare how they felt after 9/11 to how they felt after November 8, 2016. Right after 9/11, a Sikh man was killed, and in subsequent years, other Sikhs have been victimized. In early 2017, Sikhs were again targeted.

Perhaps that’s why Valerie Kaur offered A Sikh Prayer for America on November 9th, 2016.

Sikh Americans

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