Friday, December 07, 2007

Racial Profiling in the Era of Terrorism. Did you know that post Sept 11, were racial profiling Middle Easterns descents? Know with Patriot act (Immigration) Latinos has being targeted for Racial profiling. What crime did Latinos or Mexicans commited to be single out and being racial profiling?

It should be remembered that practically all Immigrants have come to this country because they like our land and our institutions better than those from whence they came. They have attached themselves to the life of this country in a manner that they would hate to change and the vast majority of them will, if given a chance, remain the same good neighbors that they have been in the past regardless of what difficulties our nation may have with the country of their birth. History proves this to be true . . . .We must see to it that no race prejudices develop and that there are no petty persecutions of law-abiding people.

It is against this historical backdrop that we encounter post-9/11 efforts to combat terrorist acts on American soil, and examine the role that race should play in an effective effort to deter future attacks. But before assessing whether our government's response to the events of 9/11 betray a pattern of racial profiling.

So, racial profiling as the term has been employed in recent public debate, refers to government activity directed at a suspect or group of suspects because of their race, whether intentional or because of the disproportionate numbers of contacts based upon other pre-textual reasons. Under Fourth Amendment analysis, objective factors measure whether law enforcement action is constitutional, and under the Fourteenth Amendment challenges to the practice are assessed under the customary strict scrutiny test for racial classifications. It is against this historical and legal backdrop that we should take a look at our law enforcement and internal domestic security response to the horrific acts of September 11th.

In the weeks following September 11, federal, state and local law enforcement officials worked feverishly to investigate those responsible for the most reprehensible crime on American Soil and to assess our state of vulnerability to further acts of terrorism. As part of those efforts conclusions about the ethnicity and national origin of the prime suspects was inescapable. This crime was committed by a group of foreign nationals of middle eastern descent.

Immediately law enforcement officials focused special investigative efforts upon foreign nationals from middle eastern countries, often in disregard of any other factors warranting suspicion. In December, federal investigators began voluntary interviews with more than 5,000 young middle eastern men who entered the United States within the last two years from countries that were linked to terrorism. Federal officials have contacted administrators at more than two hundred colleges and universities to gain information about students from middle eastern countries. What are their majors? Where do they live? How often do they miss class? They have followed up these efforts with unannounced visits and interviews with the students. Some local police chiefs who have worked hard to rebut concerns over racial profiling have resisted cooperation with these federal efforts on the ground that the interviews appear to violate departmental policy or state and local laws.

The U.S. Congress, in the days following September 11th, passed The USA Patriot Act, an omnibus bill containing numerous reforms to federal criminal procedure, laws relating to foreign intelligence surveillance, wiretaps and interception of electronic communications, laws relating to the gathering of documentary evidence, and DNA and immigration laws. In a very general sense, the Act makes it easier for federal investigative agencies to obtain wiretaps on multiple electronic devices, and procure electronic and documentary evidence from sources like internet service providers and cable and telephone companies. It also relaxes prohibitions on the sharing of information obtained in investigations by different federal agencies. While the latitude afforded law enforcement activities under the act and relaxed standards for information sharing may give rise to concern for the protection of civil liberties, the provisions most relevant to our discussion today are in the area of immigration and naturalization.
I am more willing to entertain restrictions that affect all of us like identity cards and more intrusive X-ray procedures at airports - and am somewhat more skeptical of restrictions that affect only some of us, like those that focus on immigrants or single out people by nationality.

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