Photo: Racial Profiling
The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR), which the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) co-lead, applauds Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights for yesterday’s hearing on racial profiling. Racial profiling—the use of a person’s racial, ethnic, or religious appearance in determining whether they should be investigated, arrested, or detained—has increased substantially over the past decade, mainly under the guise of “immigration enforcement” and “anti-terrorism.” However, there has not been a Senate hearing on this issue since before September 11, 2001.
At the hearing, Senators and House Representatives voiced support for the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA- S. 1670, H.R. 3618) and emphasized that racial profiling is ineffective, discriminatory, and a waste of state resources. Witnesses stressed that civilians play a critical role in law enforcement by communicating with the police about crimes, and that racial profiling prevents this by increasing mistrust and fear.
“Racial profiling makes a mother afraid to take her children to school or go to the store to buy food for her family,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF. “But that’s not all: it also makes women reluctant to call the police after witnessing or surviving a crime. When residents view the police as the problem, this reduces safety for everyone living in the community.”
“People of color, including immigrants, see their families torn apart by racial profiling and discriminatory policing every day,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH. “They call the police to report a crime, but instead of receiving help they find themselves face-down on the pavement, in a jail cell, or in deportation proceedings, too often losing their partners or children in the process.”
The spread of racial profiling has affected all communities of color, but Latinos have been particularly hurt by the spread of so-called “immigration enforcement” programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities (S-Comm).
“Latinos have been arrested disproportionately under S-Comm, which suggests that appearing Latino—whatever that means—puts individuals at greater risk of arrest,” said González-Rojas.
“The impact of racial profiling on the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community, particularly the South Asian and Muslim community, has been tremendous in the aftermath of 9/11,” said Yeung. “National origin, religious identity, and physical appearance have caused members of our communities to be viewed as suspects and enemies, leading us to be treated poorly by law enforcement and even by our own neighbors.”
NCIWR opposes racial profiling and supports ERPA. We look forward to supporting further efforts to bring an end to the harmful and costly practice of racial profiling in the United States.