A recent initiative by the Department of Homeland Security would expand communication between its agencies and Arab, South Asian and Muslim youth in America.
A conference on the issue, called "Roundtable on Security and Liberty: Perspectives of Young Leaders Post 9-11," is being hailed by participants as a positive first step in repairing years of mutual mistrust.
"We're dealing with profiling within our communities, and this provides us with a voice to change these problems," said Rajbir Singh Datta, 25, of the Sikh American Legal Defence & Education Fund (SALDEF) of Washington, D.C., who participated in the conference. "When you're a high school or college student, you are always dealing with these problems, but not sure how to solve them."
Datta, who lives in Washington, was one of 30 or so young leaders from a wide range of backgrounds who met with several government and law enforcement agencies at the conference, held at George Washington University in Washington in late July.
"The youth want -- and got access to -- government people," Datta said.
Panel discussions ranged from "The State of Arab, Muslim, South Asian, Sikh, and Middle Eastern American Young People Today," to how to get a job with the federal government.
Datta said the best part of the conference was the frank discussions that took place between government officials -- including Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff -- and participants.