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Report: Racial Profiling Pervasive Across America OneAmerica (Oct 23, 2010)

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article below posted October 23, 2010    Bookmark and Share
Report: Racial Profiling Pervasive Across America

Washington citizens and leaders urge action on the End Racial Profiling Act

from OneAmerica

The patchwork of laws dealing with racial profiling have created a system that is too burdensome for victims of profiling to navigate, but the practice of racial profiling is pervasive and devastating across America.

Alex Arvanetes is a Washington resident who regularly crosses the US/Canada border to see his wife, a Canadian citizen. He is not a Muslim but feels he has been profiled because he resembles people from the Middle East. Arvanetes recently commented at a public meeting in Burlington, WA, about treatment he has received while crossing:

"They surround the car [at the border checkpoint]... there's nothing—there's no event to spark this. It's just 'You're going into cuffs. You're coming out of the car.' And you're in front of so many people. 'There goes the Muslims. I wonder what they're up to.' They're looking at you crazy."


Also, local police profile and then engage in "informal" immigration enforcement. The following is the experience of Marco Sanchez, a practicing psychologist who manages two community health clinics in Washington:

"I didn't know why the police officer decided to stop me.... The first thing the police officer asked me was, 'Do you have legal documents?' Sure, I'll give you my driver's license, registration, and insurance. He asked me again, 'Did you have legal documents?' I thought he meant my insurance documents had expired.... He asked me directly, 'Are you legally in the country?'"


Though Constitutional protections and federal laws relevant to racial profiling exist, there are major hurdles to file complaints and access the courts. An individual cannot just file suit in a case of alleged racial profiling but is forced to sue the entire institution, creating an almost insurmountable obstacle for people to look towards the judicial system for help. That's why passing the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) is so crucial.

Congressman Rick Larsen, who represents the Burlington, WA, area, outlined why he is a co-sponsor of ERPA:

"I supported legislation that would prohibit any law enforcement agency from engaging in racial profiling and allow for civil action to be brought in a State or district court. The End Racial Profiling Act would also require that all federal and state law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding must certify that they have adequate policies in place to ensure that racial profiling does not continue."


Congressman Jim McDermott of Seattle also called for the passage of ERPA:

"Racial profiling is a human rights violation, clear and simple. Not only does racial profiling affect people from all backgrounds, but is has also proven to undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies when they narrowly focus on a limited group of suspects. The time for this legislation is long overdue, and I will continue working with OneAmerica to ensure that all those within America's borders have fundamental rights."


The Rights Working Group has recently released "Faces of Racial Profiling: A Report from Communities Across America" featuring testimonies from six Face the Truth hearings, including the one in Burlington, WA, which was sponsored by OneAmerica and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA). The report is available at www.rightsworkinggroup.org/faces-of-racial-profiling.


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Comments (2)

Please keep comments polite and related to the above page.



#1 - Delano - 10/27/2010 - 10:57
I think border guards face an incredible challenge in this regard. One possibility is that they could just check everyone very thoroughly, and get criticized for gumming up border traffic all the time. Or they could just let everyone pass easily and then get castigated--or fired--when an Islamic terrorist makes it through with a bomb.
It's no wonder that such guards would seek to use appearance factors as a means to target their searches.
It would be nice to see an article on what non-racially-profiling means there are to effectively manage the border.

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