The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is disappointed with the racial profiling guidelines issued yesterday by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Although the new guidelines, approved by President Bush, essentially forbid profiling based on ethnicity and race, they permit ethnic/racial profiling and discrimination based on physical appearance of criminal suspects in certain cases.
The guidelines fall short of ending racial profiling in the United States. Moreover, the guidelines do not cover state and local police agencies who at times are more likely to engage in routine law enforcement activities under which such profiling is most likely to occur. The guidelines also fail to include an enforcement mechanism or remedy and allow government officials to use discriminatory practices in particular cases under a national security exception.
This is problematic for Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities who have borne the brunt of racial and ethnic profiling after September 11. Hundreds of predominantly Arab, Muslim and South Asian men have been secretly detained and others subjected to “voluntary” interviews and special registration procedures simply because of their national origin even though the men had no connection to terrorism. The use of racial discrimination on airlines is another problem for the Arab-American community, as Arab men or those perceived to be such, have been profiled and ejected from airplanes simply because of the way they look or their Arab names. Such abuses are likely to continue under the national security exception.
“As a civil rights organization, ADC is committed to enhancing our nation’s national security. Ethnic and racial profiling have been widely recognized as bad law enforcement techniques and the new guidelines are not sufficient to end racial profiling,” President Mary Rose Oakar said about the new policy. ADC asks President Bush to follow through with his campaign promise to end racial profiling in the United States.