By: Harneet Kaur
SALDEF, founded in 1996, stands for the Sikh American Legal Defense Fund and is an organization based on the advocacy of Sikh Americans. The mission of SALDEF is to empower Sikh Americans by building dialogue, deepening understanding, promoting civic and political participation, and upholding social justice and religious freedom for all Americans. The organization aspires for Sikh Americans to be recognized as an integral part of the United States.
SALDEF is developing its vision into a reality by working on initiatives such as SIKHVOTE, which educates the Sikh community about voting rights. The SALDEF has a SIkhLEAD internship program that inspires and provides Sikh American college students a first-hand perspective into the federal government and legislative process’s functioning.
SALDEF has also designed the first-ever national survey sent to the Sikh American community which gathers information on demographics, political affiliations, opinions on social issues, and behaviors of the Sikh American community. The survey helps professionals such as policymakers to better understand Sikhs in the United States.
SALDEF is planning to relaunch its Leadership Development Program (LDP) this year which motivates Sikh American youth to become leaders in their communities. From working to ensure that Sikh unaccompanied minors housed at the Heartland Alliance facility in Chicago are provided appropriate religious care to updating Sikh Awareness training for the TSA, SALDEF truly upholds it’s mission statement and does the most to provide high-quality advocacy for Sikh Americans.
Kiran Kaur Gill, an executive director at SALDEF, states, “I love what I do because I am passionate about advocating for Sikh American issues, supporting Sikh Americans across the country, developing Sikh American leaders and sharing the incredible philosophy of Sikhi with the broader American society.” Her statement indicates that those advocating on behalf of Sikh Americans in the United States are truly passionate about making a change and providing support in difficult times.