A project of the Center for Community Change

Broader Social Justice

Institutionalized Racial Profiling: U.S. Border Screening Under Fire


Today the Washington Post reports on calls for a change in the border screening tactics used by the U.S. government. With personal, political and religious questions as an institutionalized part of these screenings, it is not suprising that the government’s “Terrorism Watch List” has topped 1,000,000 people. Yes, you read those zeroes correctly – our government currently has one million people flagged as potential terrorists.

Over the years, watch-list mismatches have entangled countless individuals whose names are similar to those on the government’s master database of terrorism suspects, which includes more than 1 million names and aliases used by 400,000 people.

Questions that are often included in these screenings are:

“What is your religion?” “What mosque do you attend?” “How often do you pray?” “What do you think of the war in Iraq?” “What charities do you contribute to?”

In response, Muslim Advocates have released a groundbreaking report on the targeting of Americans – because they are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim – by Customs & Border Protection agents for deeply invasive searches and interrogations.

The report, Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith & Finances of Americans Returning Home, can be viewed here: http://www.muslimadvocates.org/documents/Unreasoneable_Intrusions_2009.pdf

The report contains dozens of stories of individuals who have shared with Muslim Advocates their experiences when returning home from overseas travel.  These experiences have taken place at land crossings and international airports – from San Francisco to New York, Detroit to Houston.  These Americans are young, old, male, female, a firefighter, military veterans, students, lawyers, doctors, senior executives with major high tech companies, and academic researchers at Ivy League institutions.

The report also lays out a comprehensive set of solutions for the President and Congress.  These solutions strike the right balance in upholding our nation’s founding values and keeping our nation safe and secure.

As the Washington Post reports:

The DHS has received more than 54,500 requests for redress since February 2007 and closed 31,000 of them, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Critics say the program does not inform travelers whether their names are listed, whether any change has been made or how to get off the watch list and avoid being relisted.

This issues, which fall into the broader category of Civil Rights violations, which are currently being investigated in Congress, must be dealt with head on by the administration.

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Pastor Tazed, Beaten by Border Patrol in Warrantless Search

Below is a shocking post about the attack of a Pastor by Border Patrol agents accustomed to using fear and force to get their way. Sometimes we need to connect the dots. An injustice to one is an injustice to all. Think about it.

From Dave Bennion at the Immigrant Rights blog on Change.org:

According to this pastor, the State Security Apparatus decided to break his car windows, taze him repeatedly, and then stomp on his head because he refused to consent to a warrantless search and seizure in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

The CBP officers who attacked Pastor Anderson must have gotten a little too used to terrorizing the undocumented and forgotten that citizens may not be so easily intimidated.  But the reason State Security jails, deports, or tortures foreigners has less to do with keeping citizens safe than with keeping them compliant.  Sometimes the mask slips a bit to reveal the ugliness underneath.

This search happened within the CFZ–the Constitution-Free Zone–that extends 100 miles inland from the border in which DHS conducts warrantless searches.  Two-thirds of the American public lives there.

Continue Reading…

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Another Year and More Hate Crimes Against Latinos

Earlier this week, the FBI released a report documenting Hate Crime Statistics in 2007. Much like every other year since 2003, the number of hate crimes directed at Latinos has increased.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center blog:

As anti-immigrant propaganda has increased on both the margins and in the mainstream of society — where pundits and politicians have routinely vilified undocumented Latino immigrants with a series of defamatory falsehoods — hate violence has risen against perceived “illegal aliens.” Each year since 2003, the number of FBI-reported anti-Latino hate crime incidents has risen (see table, below), even as a swelling nativist movement has become larger and more vitriolic.

Anti-Hispanic Hate Crimes

Continue Reading…

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