[JURIST] Government officials for the Obama administration [official website], on Friday, announced the coming of new rules intended to decrease racial profiling. These rules, to be released by the Justice Department [official website] as an expansion of anti-profiling laws passed in 2003 [NYT report], are expected to impact federal law enforcement agencies by banning racial profiling for national security cases. In opening cases federal agents are expected to be prohibited from considering factors such as race, religion, sexual orientation and national origin. These new laws, however, will not be binding on local law enforcement or portions of the Department of Homeland Security [official website], such as the Transportation Security Administration [official website]. Additionally parts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection [official website] will be exempt. The exemption of these agencies will still permit racial profiling of airline passengers and those attempting to cross the border.
The expected laws will continue the nation’s growing dialogue about racial profiling. Last month the UN Committee Against Torture [official website] urged the US [report, PDF] to open investigations into all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force by police officers [JURIST report]. The committee expressed concern over the use of force against certain people and the use of “racial profiling by police and immigration offices,” among other tactics used by law enforcement. Also last month the Utah Attorney General’s Office [official website] reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] over a controversial immigration law, striking several provisions of the law [JURIST report] that many advocacy groups argued perpetuated racial profiling. Last year the ACLU accused [press release] governmental surveillance centers of invasion of privacy and reliance on racial and religious profiling in their Suspicious Activity Reports urging [letter, PDF] the centers to adopt stricter standards of reporting [JURIST report].