ADC Cautiously Welcomes Revised TSA Policy

Washington, DC | April 2, 2010 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) cautiously welcomes the decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reverse a prior security policy based on national origin or racial profiling.  Prior directives targeted individuals, including U.S. Citizens, travelling from Muslim majority or Middle Eastern countries, with no regards as to whether these travelers posed individualized threats.  The newly announced policy supersedes the directives implemented this past January.  ADC’s prior work on this matter can be read by clicking here.
The official release by DHS can be read here.  The new policy shifts the focus from national origin profiling to threat-based intelligence.  Further the new policy is no longer country specific, but rather applied to all passengers coming to the U.S., regardless of country.   This is a move in the right direction, as national origin profiling has proven to be an ineffective and not a smart law enforcement tool.
ADC is concerned, however, about how the new policy will be implemented.  As reported in the Washington Post, in some cases "screeners will have to rely on their judgment as they consider the listed traits."   The complete Washington Post article can be read here.  ADC will be requesting assurances from DHS that such judgments are not based on pre-conceived biases or other improper criteria, to implement what appears on its face to be a neutral policy.  Accordingly, ADC will be seeking clarification about the reported "particular travel patterns" screening procedures. ADC will also be seeking clarifications from DHS about the new policy’s implementation and assurances that adequate training, and educational instructions, will be given to Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) officers.
ADC National President, Ms. Sara Najjar-Wilson, stated that, "ADC is very pleased that DHS has rescinded its 14 country protocol and is issuing a new policy that appears to apply equally to all those who travel to the U.S.  ADC continues to be concerned about how the policy will be implemented at the "front lines."  Our previous experiences tell us that, while the policy appears to be neutral on its face, the use of  "particular travel patterns" or "personal judgments"  could be applied discriminatorily resulting in adverse treatment to persons of our heritage.  DHS must give assurances that such resultant outcomes of this policy will be avoided." 
ADC will continue to monitor the implementation of this new policy and looks forward to a continuing and open dialogue with DHS.
If you are travelling and have any questions please feel free to contact the ADC Legal Department to, or by calling 202-244-2990.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.
The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.

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