The Brennan Center, along with more than 100 civil liberties and advocacy groups, sent a letter to President Obama urging the Justice Department to update its 2003 guidance that prohibits racial profiling by federal law enforcement. Crafted under President Bush and former Attorney General Ashcroft, the current guidance contains loopholes and ambiguities that do not prohibit all forms of discriminatory profiling.
Specifically, the groups asked the Justice Department to update its 2003 guidance so that it:
- Prohibits profiling based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation;
- Applies to state and local law enforcement agencies that work in partnership with the federal government or receive federal funding;
- Covers surveillance activities;
- Is enforceable and
- Closes loopholes for border integrity and national security, as these broad exceptions essentially sanction profiling in border communities and anywhere that a national security justification can be invoked.
According to the groups, “the need to address the[se] shortcomings … is even greater now as a result of the proliferation of new forms of law enforcement tools and techniques, new state laws that target specific communities, and federal programs that involve state and local law enforcement in civil immigration enforcement.”