WASHINGTON (RNS) Sikh and Muslim groups are pushing Congress to pass
a bill prohibiting racial profiling that’s been languishing for more than nine years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Two groups, Muslim Advocates and the Sikh Coalition, are seeking passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, which was first introduced in 2001 and is currently sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.
The bill would prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement agencies and allow any person who is the victim of profiling to sue for “declaratory or injunctive relief.”
“It’s absolutely critical for Congress to weigh in and ban racial, religious profiling by law enforcement,” said Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, who was scheduled to testify Thursday (June 17) before a House subcommittee.
“It’s simply bad policing. It’s wrong and counterproductive.”
There are an estimated 6 million Muslims and Sikhs living in the United States, and a significant number have faced secondary airport screenings since 9/11, said Amardeep Singh, director of programs at the Sikh Coalition.
“It’s not fair, not safe, not American to be subjecting our community to this extra scrutiny,” Singh said. “We’re losing our focus and not keeping our eye on the ball when it comes to air traffic safety.”
Last month, Singh and his 18-month-old son Azaad were selected for additional screening at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida. Security personnel found Elmo books and a toy truck inside Azaad’s bag, Singh said.
“I had to grab him, get him in the glass box and had to hold him while he was crying as a screener patted him down,” Singh said. “It’s just a mess. Why is my son being punished for something he had nothing to do with?”
By Fernando Alfonso III
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