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