Reforms to Federal Racial Profiling Guidance Continue to Negatively Impact Sikh Community

 UNITED SIKHS is disappointed by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) revisions to the federal racial profiling guidance. We are specifically concerned by the exemption allowing law enforcement agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to continue profiling our communities behind a veil of national security investigations. With their exemption from the new changes, profiling will continue to be permitted at our borders and in our airports on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin.

In 2003, DOJ had released their racial profiling guidance containing several loopholes which in turn allowed law enforcement officials free reign to profile without consequence. As stands, almost all Sikhs with turbans are subject to secondary screening at airports, an issue UNITED SIKHS and other civil rights groups have been bringing to the attention of lawmakers, the administration, and government officials for years. Major efforts have been taken to push DOJ to remove such profiling from their federal guidance and a lot more work needs to be done.

We do commend the DOJ for including the ban of racial profiling from national security cases and expanding the definition of profiling to prevent FBI agents from considering factors such as religion and national origin when opening cases. It adds national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the categories of individuals protected from profiling.

We join other civil rights groups in our disappointment with the loopholes remaining in the guidance and implore Attorney General Eric Holder and DOJ to stand against such profiling.  Particularly, the guidance must apply to state and local law enforcement, must apply to TSA and CBP, and must ban the surveillance of our communities through mapping efforts.

We stand by our stance against the use of any kind of profiling by law enforcement agencies. UNITED SIKHS will continue to advocate for the international Sikh community until turbans DO NOT equal secondary screening. We are committed to working towards a fair government no longer reliant on profiling measures as a means for national security.

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