Politics

Feds To Ban Agents From Profiling, But Maybe Not In National Security Cases

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The Justice Department is set to ban federal agents from considering religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation during investigations, according to a government official.

“Putting an end to this practice not only comports with the Constitution, it would put real teeth to the F.B.I.’s claims that it wants better relationships with religious minorities,” Hina Shamsi, a national security lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times.

In 2003 the Bush administration banned racial profiling – not religious and nationality profiling – in cases not related to national security.

It is unclear whether Attorney General Eric Holder will make the new profiling ban applicable to national security cases.

“Adding religion and national origin is huge,” said Linda Sarsour, advocacy director for the National Network for Arab American Communities. "But if they don’t close the national security loophole, then it’s really irrelevant."

Holder announced the plans during a meeting with New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, but did not disclose details.

Holder has long been opposed to profiling, calling it a civil rights violation.

“Racial profiling is wrong,” Holder said in a 2010 speech. “It can leave a lasting scar on communities and individuals. And it is, quite simply, bad policing — whatever city, whatever state.”

He has been under pressure from the ACLU and other civil liberties groups to expand the Bush ban.

“Every year, thousands of people are stopped while driving, flying, or even walking simply because of their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration or citizenship status, or religion,” said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero in his 2012 testimony at a Senate hearing on racial profiling.

Sources: New York Times, Businessweek