WASHINGTON, D.C.—New Jersey’s U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez today joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in calling for the Justice Department to allow for the tracking of hate crimes committed against Sikh Americans. The letter comes following the Aug. 5 tragedy in which alleged white supremacist Wade Michael Page killed six people and wounded four others at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
“This tragic shooting is the latest hate crime committed against Sikhs in the United States,” the senators wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder. “Until we have a more comprehensive understanding of the number and type of hate crimes committed against Sikhs, our law enforcement agencies will not be able to allocate the appropriate level of personnel and other resources to prevent and respond to these crimes.”
The Justice Department, through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), tracks crimes committed against Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, atheists, as well as those with “other religion” or “multiple religions,” but does not currently track crimes against Sikhs.
Approximately 500,000 Sikhs live in the U.S., including a large Sikh community in New Jersey that has been estimated to include 25,000 members.
Led by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the letter was signed by Senators Lautenberg, Menendez, Scott P. Brown (R-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), John F. Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).