South Asian American groups joined others in condemning new racial profiling guidelines that stop short of ending the extra scrutiny they must go through at airports.
South Asian Americans Leading Together, the Sikh Coalition, and the National Network for Arab American Communities all released coordinated, but separate statements saying the guidelines didn’t go far enough.
“The large exemption for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and CBP (Custom & Border Protection) creates an ineffective patchwork of policies for law enforcement professionals nationwide,” said SAALT. “It in effect allows federal law enforcement to continue the discriminatory ethnic mapping and profiling of a host of communities under the guise of border and national security concerns.”
The Sikh Coalition predicted certain ethnic and religious groups will continue to be suspect under the new guidelines.
“Having a particular skin color, religious belief, or last name is not a crime,” said Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition. “This is not a 50-50 issue. The Obama Administration can either ban profiling or allow it. It sounds like they’re committed to allowing it.”
The National Network for Arab American Communities echoed those sentiments.
“The Obama Administration had an opportunity to take bold action to address profiling but instead created a road-map for federal agencies on how to profile and who to profile. In the wake of the police killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, it is extremely problematic that this new guidance does not apply to local and state law enforcement agencies and does not address the national epidemic of racial profiling that leads to police brutality and the unwarranted surveillance of American Muslim communities.”
Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT, elaborated on that point.
“South Asian community members regularly experience profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement agents at our borders, airports, and roads, and are subject to discriminatory and suspicionless surveillance. Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, Black, Latino, and border communities experience the same violations of their rights on a regular basis. We have been waiting for years for Attorney General Holder to announce reforms to the federal racial profiling guidance but are appalled at the sheer insufficiency of what the Department of Justice has outlined. While we appreciate the enormity of the undertaking Attorney General Holder took on in reviewing the guidance, our communities will not be satisfied until our government definitely outlaws the use of profiling against all communities and individuals. To do anything less goes against who we are as a country. Indeed, these policies make us all less safe.”