A key United States Congressional panel has passed a legislative amendment that calls for investigations into racial and religious profiling of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and those from South Asia at various United States airports.
The amendment in this regard moved by Congressman Mike Honda to the homeland security appropriations act is an effort by lawmakers to ensure that the transportation security administration officers respect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties during security screenings. TSA is the federal agency responsible for airport security.
"Far too many Sikh, South Asian, Muslim and Arab passengers face additional security screenings at our airports every time they fly," said Congresswoman Judy Chu, who is also chair of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and co-chair of the recently formed American Sikh Congressional Caucus.
"I have heard stories that even babies have been searched. While we must have screening policies in place to keep our airports and skies safe, we must also ensure that discrimination does not occur. Racial profiling does not make us more safe," she said.
Judy applauded the house appropriations committee for ensuring a full investigation is completed to ensure all policies are carried out in a neutral and non-discriminatory manner.
Meanwhile, a group of Democratic senators on Thursday introduced a legislation to end racial and religious profiling by law enforcement officials.
Introduced by Senator Ben Cardin, the end racial profiling act is co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Coons, Tom Harkin, Bob Menendez, Debbie Stabenow, Carl Levin, Barbara Mikulski, Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Boxer and Kirsten Gillibrand. It also has been endorsed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Rights Working Group, American Civil Liberties Union and 136 other national, state, and local civil and legal rights organizations.
"Racial profiling undermines the rule of law and strikes at the core of our nation's commitment to equal protection for all," said Senator Durbin, chairman of the judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and human rights.
Racial profiling is the practice of a law enforcement agent relying on race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin as a factor in their investigations and activities. The legislation creates an exception for the use of these factors where there is trustworthy information, which links persons of a particular race, ethnicity, or national origin to an identified incident or scheme.