Sikhs in America: “Perpetually Foreign, Automatically Suspect, and Potentially Terrorist”

This essay examines two points in American history during which the United States effectively perceived Sikhs as terrorists even while they sought freedom from oppressive regimes, first British and then Indian. Although Sikh immigrants resided on U.S. soil, the United States’ alliances with the colonizing British government and the successor Indian government contributed to the criminalization of Sikh immigrants who were involved in political struggles against those entities. This history reveals how Sikhs have been caught in the nexus of criminal law and immigration law for over a century. Awareness of this history, in turn, allows us to contextualize the current immigration issues facing Sikhs within the broader landscape of Sikh American subjugation. […]