MPAC Provides Testimony for Senate Hearing on How to End Racial Profiling
Next week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be chairing the Senate’s first hearing on profiling in more than a decade—Ending Racial Profiling in America.
Tuesday’s hearing will explore how racial profiling harms rather than helps law enforcement efforts. The three faces of racial profiling that will be addressed throughout the hearing are state immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama that subject Latino Americans to heightened scrutiny, discriminatory law enforcement against African Americans and anti-terrorism efforts that target Muslim Americans.
In an effort to highlight the work MPAC and other civil society organizations do on ending racial profiling, MPAC submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee illustrating the importance of partnerships between law enforcement and minority communities.
Racial profiling occurs whenever law enforcement agents use race, religion, ethnicity or national origin as a factor in deciding whom they should investigate, arrest or detain (except where these characteristics are part of a specific suspect description). Singling people out on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin or perceived citizenship or immigration status is in direct breach of the founding principles of our country. Regardless of whether it takes place under the guise of the war on drugs, immigration enforcement or counterterrorism efforts, racial profiling is always wrong. Moreover it is ineffective, because the practice diverts precious law enforcement resources away from smart, targeted behavior-based investigations.
Our testimony provides evidence that when law enforcement agencies build relationships with communities based on trust rather than suspicion, positive results happen. In fact, precious resources are wasted when law enforcement officers squander their time and energies on racially profiling people. The practice of racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement has resulted in a heightened fear of law enforcement in our community, as in many other minority communities throughout our nation.
The hearing will also examine proposed solutions to racial profiling, including the End Racial Profiling Act. It will also close loopholes in the Department of Justice’s racial profiling guidance and the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of federal civil rights laws to prevent profiling by state and local law enforcement agencies. The Act “is designed to enforce the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws by eliminating racial profiling through changing the policies and procedures underlying the practice.”
We are heartened by the Subcommittee’s leadership in holding this hearing and urge the Committee to move swiftly and take concrete actions to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state and local level. Any and all forms of racial profiling are wrong, and any aspect of it in pursuit of security is a violation of our constitutionally protected freedoms.
Our national conscience should no longer be willing to accept wholesale profiling of communities. The recent revelations of such racial profiling by the NYPD shows us that this type of behavior runs counter to what America stands for as a nation. We should be beyond the days where we sell our founding principles for perceived safety and ineffective law enforcement measures. We urge all Americans to stand together against racial profiling because if such practices are not clearly outlawed, all Americans will be effected. Today it might be immigrants and American Muslims, but tomorrow the suspect group might change color, creed or national origin.