WASHINGTON – A coalition of 10 civil and human rights groups issued the statement below in response to a proposed and long overdue update to Department of Justice standards on the use of racial profiling by federal law enforcement officials as described in an article in today’s New York Times. The Justice Department has not yet released this updated guidance to standards put in place by the Bush Administration in 2003:
“Given the administration’s thoughtful and tactical reforms to law enforcement and criminal justice policy, we would expect the Department of Justice to offer a much stronger proposal than what was described in today’s New York Times story.
The Bush administration guidance on racial profiling was inadequate when it was first released in 2003 and is even more inadequate now. The guidance affects millions of everyday Americans from a wide range of racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. This 11-year-old policy requires significant reforms to correct the huge gaps in protection and carve outs for ineffective policing.
Civil and human rights advocates have vocally and respectfully advocated for several meaningful updates to this guidance for years. The proposal described in today’s news story would continue to apply to race and take a significant step forward to protect people based on their religion, gender, national origin, and sexual orientation. But it would still allow mapping of American communities across the country based on crude stereotypes regarding which groups are likely to commit different types of crimes. This sends the ill-conceived message that our government views prejudice as acceptable. And racial and other profiling permitted in one context will inevitably bleed into others. The FBI should focus on actual criminal suspects and national security threats, not on targeting entire communities based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion.
Racial profiling is unlawful and an ineffective law enforcement practice that violates the human rights of the people targeted. It’s time for the administration to propose a meaningful update to this policy. We look forward to learning the details of this proposal.”
Arab American Institute
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
The Sikh Coalition
Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF)
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
- Click here to read a letter from 225 organizations outlining several important and needed updates to this guidance.
- Click here to read more about the use of community mapping.