(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/16/14) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today said it is optimistic that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking "a step in the right direction" with the announcement that it will expand its definition of profiling to prohibit agents from considering religion and national origin in their investigations.
Guidance on racial profiling issued in 2003 by the Bush administration banned the practice of racial profiling but left loopholes that allowed profiling at U.S. borders and in cases relating to national security or terrorism. The guidance never addressed profiling based on religion, national origin, or other factors. NBC News has reported that the new DOJ policy will prohibit profiling in terrorism cases; it is not yet clear whether it will still allow the national security or border loopholes.
In a statement addressing the announced change in policy, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"We have always believed that profiling based on race and religion is not only unconstitutional but is also an ineffective and counterproductive tactic that wastes law enforcement resources and alienates and marginalizes minority communities. Good law enforcement requires good leads, not dragnets that catch law abiding Americans who are simply living their lives.
"This new DOJ policy seems to be a step in the right direction, but the national security and border loopholes need to be removed for it to truly reflect American values. We look forward to reading the official policy when it is released, and will monitor its implementation, particularly as it applies to national security investigations."
Awad noted that for a number of years, CAIR and other civil liberties groups have called for such a policy change after receiving complaints that state and federal authorities targeted Muslims and Latinos based solely on their faith or national origin. Actions by the groups have included support for the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), for comprehensive immigration reform and for other initiatives designed to help end racial profiling by law enforcement agencies.
In 2012, CAIR submitted testimony to a Senate hearing on the issue.
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.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org