SAALT Endorses the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian American advocacy organization, is proud to endorse the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act 2017 (ERRPA), a critical piece of legislation introduced today by Senator Ben Cardin that provides a comprehensive prohibition on profiling by law enforcement that is woefully missing from existing federal law enforcement policies.

“This has been a banner year for hate and we’re only in February, with successive waves of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies cracking at the notion of equality in our country,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “ERRPA acknowledges the dangerous climate of hate in the United States, the dehumanizing impact profiling has on our communities, and creates mechanisms that seek to protect the civil liberties of all Americans.”

If passed, ERRPA creates a uniform definition of racial profiling, including discriminatory profiling based on religion, ethnicity, or other protected categories, prohibited at all levels. ERRPA mandates training on racial profiling issues, authorizes grants to law enforcement agencies to implement best practices discouraging discriminatory profiling, and requires data collection by these agencies.

ERRPA comes in light of SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documents the disturbing increase in profiling, surveillance, and hate violence aimed at Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities during the 2016 election cycle, with levels rivaling the backlash in the year after 9/11. Issues of mistrust and accountability from law enforcement have plagued communities of color for decades, and particularly since 2001, when Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have been unjustly targeted, profiled, and surveilled by law enforcement. This legislation is now more important than ever, as the Trump administration continues to embolden law enforcement to target and criminalize communities of color through divisive policies such as the Secure Communities program, as well as through destructive executive orders and cabinet appointments.

The trust deficit continues to grow between the public and law enforcement at a time when public confidence in policing is urgently needed. The passage of ERRPA can have a civilizing effect in our divided society by transforming our police from a force to a service and ensuring that all are equal under the law. In a month of wrong turns, this legislation is the course correction our country needs to uphold and protect the rights of all.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org