Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ALC Applauds Change in Airport Screening Policy

From the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco:

The Asian Law Caucus joins civil liberties groups across the nation in applauding the Transportation Security Administration's decision to rescind a misguided policy that exasperated the racial, religious, and national origin profiling at U.S. borders. Issued in January 2010, the now rescinded policy applied automatic enhanced security screening for passengers who held passports of or who were traveling from 14 predominantly Muslim-majority countries.

On Friday, April 2, 2010, DHS announced that new security protocols will supersede the 14-country directive. According to DHS, this new system will be based on specific threat-based intelligence information, and will be applied to all passengers traveling to the United States.

"Although this is certainly a positive step, we continue to be concerned about the intrusive searches and questioning of individuals who suffer because of DHS's inadequate policies on profiling and because of the bloated and mismanaged terrorist watchlist," said Veena Dubal, national security and civil rights staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus. "Our hope is that the new system will soon be accompanied by a directive that prohibits profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin."

Since 2007, the Asian Law Caucus has received a growing number of complaints from travelers who were racially and religiously profiled at the border. Many of these individuals complain that being repeatedly stopped, interrogated, and searched is not only inconvenient, but transforms their homecoming into one of anxiety, fear, and insecurity.

"Racial, religious, and national origin profiling at the border does not make us safer as a nation," said Summer Hararah, Project Coordinator at the Asian Law Caucus. "On the contrary, it distracts our resources from true threats and alienates communities. Americans who are profiled report feeling like they do not belong in their own country."

One year ago, the Asian Law Caucus released an extensive report documenting profiling at the U.S. border and advocating for change. This report, Returning Home: How U.S. Government Practices Undermine Civil Rights At Our Nation's Doorstep, was published prior to the 14-country directive. Since the 14-country directive was issued in January 2010, the Asian Law Caucus has advocated alongside civil liberties organizations from across the country to have it rescinded.

bh

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