(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/8/2014) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today expressed concerns about the fact that the newly-released U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revision of its “Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies” retains “Muslim” carve-outs on profiling by government agencies at airports and borders.
While it is reported that the new guidelines extend the existing ban on federal law enforcement profiling on the basis of religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity, it retains exemptions for Department of Homeland Security agents’ use of religion, national origin and other characteristics to profile at airports and the border and allow the FBI to “map” minority communities to place informants.
In a statement, CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, said:
“CAIR is dismayed that at a time when our nation is struggling to come to terms with a series of high-profile police killings of unarmed African-Americans, the DOJ would release revised profiling guidelines that include loopholes for targeting U.S. Muslims and Hispanics.
“The addition of religion, national origin and other characteristics to the guidance is a sign of progress. However, these additions remain only a symbolic gesture if, according to reports, the DOJ keeps carve-outs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Customs and Border Enforcement (CBP) to discriminate at airports and the U.S. border, and allows the FBI to ‘map’ minority communities to place informants.
“Under these guidelines the DOJ will still authorize the FBI’s racial mapping program to continue registering minority neighborhoods from across the nation for possible surveillance and insertion of informants – spanning African-Americans in Atlanta, Ga., to Asian-Americans in the San Francisco Bay area, to Arab and Muslim Americans in Dearborn, Mich.
“These guidelines will do nothing to stem the complainants CAIR receives from American Muslims that CBP profiles them based on their religion at the northern border and when returning home from travel abroad by asking about First Amendment protected activities. Questions have included: What religion do you belong to? How religious are you? Why do you wear a beard? How many times a day do you pray? What do you pray for? Which mosque do you go to? Do you pray the Morning Prayer in the mosque? Who else prays in your mosque? Who is your religious leader?
“The promise of racial and religious equality enshrined in the U.S. Constitution is left unfulfilled if we as a nation are not brave enough to see the inequality that currently exists and are too weak to hold our systems of justice accountable when it fails to preserve the rights of any minority community.
“With the release of this new guidance, the rights of American Muslims at the airport, border and in their communities and houses of worship remain at risk. CAIR expected more progress from the DOJ and White House and urges all Americans to contact their elected officials to urge passage of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), an act that will truly eliminate all forms of profiling without exceptions, carve-outs or loopholes.”
The new guidelines do not apply to local or state law enforcement but does apply to state and local officers in federal law enforcement taskforces.
In 2003, the DOJ made a partial attempt to put a stop to racial profiling by issuing guidelines that banned federal law enforcement officials from engaging in profiling but permitted the use of religion and national origin. The 2003 guidance was also ineffective to stop discrimination because it includes open-ended loopholes that allow federal law enforcement agencies to profile at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security. The new guidance retains some aspects of these previous loopholes.
Recently CAIR responded to Attorney General Eric Holder’s announced resignation by asking that he “issue guidelines on racial profiling that protect the rights of all Americans without any exceptions” as he makes his exit from office.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.