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Feisty US lawmakers pledge to fight racial profiling

July 18, 2012 15:01 IST

Two of the most feisty women activists on Capitol Hill, United States Senator Barbara Mikulski and US Representative Judy Chu, both Democrats representing Maryland and California, pledged at the National Federation of Indian American Association's Congressional reception that they would fight against the racial profiling of India Americans, Sikh Americans and Muslim Americans, which has grown exponentially since 9/11, and led to these communities being discriminated at various levels.
 
Mikulski, the longest-serving female US senator, is considered one of the toughest fighters in the traditionally male preserve for centuries. She has been a mentor to junior female US Senators including former First Lady and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Mikulski also promised to make sure that the Indian American community would be entitled to all of the benefits of a quality education, irrespective of whether they were affluent or not.
 
 "The Indian American community plays an active and important role in Maryland and in the country and impresses all of us with their work ethic and family values," she said, and added, "It has been my privilege to fight for issues that are critical to the Indian American community because I believe that every person in this country should have access to a quality and affordable education."
 
She assured those present at the reception that "I will continue to work on finding sensible, bi-partisan solutions to fix the immigration system."
 
Mikulski also acknowledged that she shared the community's "concerns about racial profiling," and noted that "such practices are an abuse of authority and a serious violation of civil rights."
 
"That is why I am a proud original co-sponsor of the End Racial Profiling Act of 2010. This will extend the federal ban on racial profiling to state and local law enforcement and permit people to take legal action if they have been the victims of racial profiling," she said.
 
Mikulski exhorted the community to urge their respective lawmakers to co-sponsor and push for the enactment of this legislation. She explained, "Additionally, it equips law enforcement with tools to eliminate racial profiling in the long-term. I request the attorney general to conduct a study of stops for routine traffic violations and interview by law enforcement officers."
 
Chu, the first Chinese American elected to the US Congress, said, "One of the first things I did was to join the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans."
 
Chu said it was vested "in making sure that we look out for you all -- all the Asian Americans and Indian Americans across the country," and told the delegates "if you have issues, please bring them to us. We want to work on them."
 
She said the organisation she heads, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus comprises Asian American lawmakers and they had "a large number of Asian Americans and Indian Americans in their districts and it's a national organisation. So, we really do have the ability to make a difference on issues that are of concern to you."
 
Chu said at CAPAC, some of the priority issues being worked on included, "making sure that we stop this racial profiling against Muslim Americans and South Asian Americans. We must stop it, especially at the airports, where we think that the TSA has had screening processes that have unfairly discriminated against Indian Americans, South Asian Americans and Sikh Americans."
 
"And so, we have met on a continuous basis with them to change that," she said.

Aziz Haniffa In Washington, DC