The Sikh Coalition, a national Sikh American advocacy organization, has obtained and released an internal TSA memo that suggests that the TSA has the ability to monitor the extent of racial profiling occurring in their screening procedures at airports. As the Sikh Coalition describes, ethnic profiling is of particular concern among Sikhs in this country: Since 2007, Sikh travelers have reported that they are routinely selected for secondary screening at some American airports, even after clearing advanced imaging technology machines without […]
Upon booking my flight for a recent vacation, it was a routine consideration that I would need to make sure I gave myself enough time to check in at the airport, because I knew I would be subject to extra screening. As a turban-wearing man of Indian descent, I have heeded the notifications and have become used to added scrutiny and inspection when I travel through the country’s airports, which usually consists of additional pat-downs, turban inspections, and a review of my travel […]
A recent update on the Sikh Coalition’s Twitter feed suggested that perhaps things had changed with the United States’ Transportation Security Administration (the TSA): SikhCo Program Director experiences NO 2ndary screening of turban at JFK airport. Sign of change? Skeptical. #racialprofiling #sikhcoalition — Sikh Coalition (@sikh_coalition) June 24, 2011 Their skepticism is justified.
While last fall’s firestorm around TSA’s search procedures seems to have simmered down, one US politician recently took a stand against being patted down: State Rep. Sharon Cissna will return to Juneau by ferry after declining to undergo a pat-down at a Seattle airport. Michelle Scannell, Cissna’s chief of staff, said that the TSA called for the pat-down because scanners showed Cissna had had a mastectomy. Scannell called the search “intrusive” but didn’t explicitly say why the lawmaker — who […]
The Sikh Coalition has announced an update to their Sikh Air Travellers Guide: Significantly, Sikhs should now expect to be secondarily screened 100 percent of the time at American airports, even after passing through so-called Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines. Although TSA publicly asserts on its website that such machines can see through “layers of clothing,” the TSA has made clear in both word and practice that such machines are not powerful enough to see through Sikh turbans. This means that, […]
Categories: Civil Rights, Politics • Tags: Air travel, Airport security, AIT machines, Bobby Scott, Judy Chu, Melvin Watt, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Sikh Coalition, Transportation Security Administration, TSA
Happy New Year! The end of 2010 has spawned all kinds of retrospectives on that year, mostly in the form of “Top 10” lists of various categories. An interesting exercise is to consider what were the top five stories related to Sikh Americans during 2010. Why the top five and not the top ten? The number five has a special significance to Sikhs: Sikhism originated in Punjab (now in India and Pakistan), which is the land of “five rivers” (“Punj” means “five”, “ab” means “river” or “water”). […]
Categories: Reflections • Tags: Airport security, AIT machines, Barack Obama, Bay Area Civil Rights Report 2010, Darbar Sahib, Golden Temple, Guru Singh, Harmandir Sahib, Kamaldeep Singh Kalsi, Outsourced, Sikh Coalition, Simran Lamba, Tejdeep Singh Rattan, Top 5 Sikh American Stories, TSA, US Army
The TSA is finding itself under increasing scrutiny. When not even a Sikh diplomat was spared from the demand to remove his turban at a US airport, the SGPC (the Sikhs’ representative body that manages Sikh shrines in India) held a demonstration outside the US Embassy in New Delhi to protest to the alleged targeting of Sikh turbans by the TSA. However, the TSA is receiving heat not just from abroad, but also from home.
Categories: Civil Rights, News Bits • Tags: Air travel, Airport security, AIT machines, California, Federal Flight Deck Officer, FFDO, Sacramento, SGPC, Transportation Security Administration, TSA, whistleblower
In the Washington Post, the Sikh Coalition‘s Rajdeep Singh brings up the dubious claims of effectiveness of TSA’s AIT machines: “The TSA and [Department of Homeland Security] sort of intimated to us that if these machines were to be used as a primary form of screening and if they were so powerful that they could detect beads of perspiration, that it would obviate the need for a human screener and setting Sikhs aside for secondary screening,” he said. “But they’re […]
Categories: Civil Rights, News Bits, Politics • Tags: Air travel, Airport security, AIT machines, GAO, Government Accountability Office, L-3 Communications, Lobbying, Sikh Coalition, Transportation Security Administration
It had come to my mind the other day that I hadn’t seen much more fallout from the TSA’s new aggressive screening procedures. And then today, I receive this news in my inbox: December 9, 2010 (Washington, DC) – The Sikh Coalition filed a formal complaint this week with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on behalf of Mr. Daljeet Singh Mann, a business traveler, who was forced to remove his dastaar (Sikh turban) on two separate occasions within a span of only […]
Categories: Civil Rights, News Bits • Tags: Air travel, Airport security, Daljeet Singh Mann, Racial profiling, Sacramento International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, SFO, Sikh Coalition, SMF, Transportation Security Administration, TSA, Turban