April 17, 2012 - Today, Senator Dick Durbin, Chairman of the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights Subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee, has convened the first Senate hearing on racial profiling since September 11th. Over the past ten years, South Asian, Muslim, Sikh and Arab communities living in the United States have been targeted for heightened scrutiny by law enforcement based on their religion, ethnicity, national origin, or nationality. Examples include frequent searches by airport security and border inspection officers, mandatory registration of certain male nationals from predominantly Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, under the National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program, and targeted surveillance of South Asian places of worship by federal and local law enforcement. In a statement for the record submitted for the Senate hearing,SAALT underscored the ongoing harmful effects of profiling on South Asian community members.
Profiling of South Asian community members continues to this day, as most recently documented in a report, In Our Own Words: Narratives of South Asian New Yorkers Affected by Racial and Religious Profiling. Issued by the New York City Profiling Collaborative including DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving, The Sikh Coalition, UNITED SIKHS, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), Coney Island Avenue Project, Council of Peoples Organization, and SAALT, this report highlights the impact of profiling on individuals sense of identity and belonging within the United States. Over the past several months, reports by the Associated Press have also revealed that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has been monitoring and infiltrating Muslim communities along the Northeast. Profiling simply does not work – it diverts limited law enforcement resources away from identifying actual criminal activity, undermines trust between police and affected individuals, and chills the civil rights of minority communities.
TAKE ACTION! Send a message to your Senators and Representative asking them to co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act.
It is long overdue that policymakers take action to prohibit racial and religious profiling in all its forms. In Congress, Congressman John Conyers of Michigan and Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland have introduced The End Racial Profiling Act (S.1670; H.R.3618). This legislation will address the harmful impact of profiling by prohibiting various forms of the practice, including in the travel and surveillance contexts; requiring training and data collection on profiling for entities receiving federal law enforcement funding; supporting law enforcement initiatives that do not result in profiling; establishing complaint mechanisms; creating privacy protections for individuals whose data is collected; and allowing affected individuals to file lawsuits to seek redress. SAALT has joined a diverse array of organizations and allies in supporting this landmark legislation in both the Houseand the Senate and urges community members to send a message to your lawmakers to co-sponsor this bill. Take a few minutes today to stand in support of civil rights and the South Asian community.
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