New Report From ACLU And RWG Finds Racial Profiling Still Pervasive

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org
Aadika Singh, RWG, (202) 296-2300 x 139; asingh@rightsworkinggroup.org

New Report From ACLU And RWG Finds Racial Profiling Still Pervasive

Groups Submit Report To U.N. Committee

WASHINGTON - Widespread
racial profiling by law enforcement agents as a result of Bush-era
policies remains a pervasive problem throughout the United States,
according to a report out today by the American Civil Liberties Union
and the Rights Working Group (RWG). Government policies are a major
cause of the disproportionate stopping and searching of racial
minorities by law enforcement agencies, according to the report, which
was submitted today to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD).

"Racial profiling remains a
widespread and pervasive problem throughout the U.S., impacting the
lives of millions of people in the African American, Asian, Latino,
South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities," said Chandra Bhatnagar,
staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program and the main author
of the report. "The U.S. government must take urgent, direct action to
rid the nation of the scourge of racial and ethnic profiling and bring
this country into conformity with both the Constitution and
international human rights obligations."

Today's report came in response to a
last-minute Bush administration submission to CERD in January 2009 that
was plagued by omissions, deficiencies and mischaracterizations. In
both its initial report to CERD in April 2007 and the follow-up
submission in January, the Bush administration relied on the Justice
Department's 2003 "Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law
Enforcement Agents" to support claims the government was taking steps
to eliminate racial profiling. However, that document doesn't cover
profiling based on religion or national origin, doesn't apply to state
or local law enforcement agencies and doesn't include any mechanisms
for enforcement or punishment for violating the recommendations. It
also contains a blanket exception to the recommendations in cases of
"national security" or "border integrity."

As a result of U.S. reliance on the
vague Justice Department guidance and other Bush policies, people of
color have been disproportionately victimized through various
government initiatives including FBI surveillance and questioning,
special registration programs, border stops, immigration enforcement
programs and the creation of "no fly lists," according to today's
report. 

"Instead of curbing racial
profiling, the overbroad national security and border integrity
exceptions in the Justice Department guidance have actually promoted
profiling and created justification for state and local law enforcement
agents to racially profile those who are or appear to be Arab, Muslim,
South Asian or Latino," said Margaret Huang, Executive Director of RWG.
"We hope the Obama administration will fix the failed policies of the
Bush administration and live up to its commitment to end racial
profiling in the United States." 

Recently, Attorney General Eric
Holder stated that ending racial profiling is a "priority" for the
Obama administration and that profiling is "simply not good law
enforcement." Today's report from the ACLU and RWG calls on the Obama
administration to fix Bush administration policies that led to
pervasive racial profiling. It also calls on Congress to pass the End
Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which would compel all law enforcement
agencies to bar racial profiling, create and apply profiling procedures
and document data on stop, search and arrest activities by race.

CERD is expected to consider the
U.S. government's follow up submission, the submission of the ACLU and
RWG and the submissions of other civil and human rights organizations
in its August session. CERD will then issue recommendations to the U.S.
government regarding its human rights obligations under the treaty.

CERD is an independent group of
experts that oversees compliance with the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty signed
and ratified by the U.S. in 1994. All levels of U.S. government are
required to comply with the treaty's provisions, which require
countries to review national, state and local policies and to amend or
repeal laws and regulations that create or perpetuate racial
discrimination. 

The ACLU and RWG's report to CERD is available online at: www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/racialjustice/40055pub20090629.html

The Bush administration's final submission to CERD is at: www.state.gov/documents/organization/113905.pdf

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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