The term, Racial profiling, is usually practiced by law enforcement agencies in order to target people of particular race for investigation and enforcement in a disproportionate manner. Individuals as well as some particular groups are targeted by the law enforcement agencies in such practices and they are subjected to various unjustifiable sufferings. This paper intends to discuss different aspects of racial profiling, role of TSA, Police and other enforcement agencies, along with discussing the impact of racial profiling on Muslims, Arabs, Hispanics, and other American minorities after 9/11. The paper presents a detailed background of ethical profiling, why and when it was implemented and what all categories fall under ethical profiling. The paper presents a detailed scenario of ethical profiling after the 9/11.
Racial profiling is not new in the American society and it exists since a long time. A Philadelphia court, in the year 1693, ordered police officials to detain and investigate any Negro who is seen wandering on the city streets. This decision was implemented on both slaved and freed Negros. Aggressive policies against Mexican Americans were always very harsh and biased. American Supreme court in the US vs. Armstrong almost reiterated the same fact and agencies were encouraged to practice racial profiling.
Several individuals, groups, NGO’s and human right organizations raised their voices against the racial profiling. US president George W. Bush, in January 2001, assured his support against the practice of racial profiling and he pledged to stop racial profiling. Before his appeal would have come into effect, a very unfortunate incident took place on 9/11 in the year 2001. America was attacked and it started a new phase of racial profiling in the America. Muslims, Arabs, people from south Asian regions were targeted by the police, TSA and other federal and state law enforcement agencies.
Racial profiling after 9/11
Law enforcement agencies were under pressure and they took several hard steps in order to prevent any such attack on the US soil. Since all the attackers of 9/11 were Muslims and from other countries, law enforcement agencies started stopping anyone who appeared like Muslim, Arab, or south Asian. People of these categories were stopped, checked, interrogated and enquired rigorously. These people started crying foul but law enforcement agencies were adamant on their approach.
Law enforcement agencies as well as the minorities have their arguments for and against of racial profiling. Minorities argue that they are being unnecessarily harassed by these agencies. They say that they are checked and stopped every when and then by the police just because they are Muslims or belong to different racial backgrounds. Law enforcement agencies argue that they have a duty to maintain law and order and to provide foolproof security to US nationals. They are duty bound to stop and probe anyone who looks suspicious (Jamal and Naber, 2008).
Both sides appear very logical. Minorities or people from different races rightly say that they should not be harassed merely because of their different races. They say that every Muslim, Arab or Asian is not a terrorist and it is not ethical to harass them merely on this ground. They further add that law enforcement agencies, instead of harassing individuals and racial groups, should focus on maintaining law and order and take all the precautionary steps in advance to prevent untoward incidents like 9/11.
Law enforcement agencies, on the other hand, appear very logical when they say that since incidents like 9/11were committed by these Muslim extremists, it becomes mandatory for them to check Muslims, Arabs or anyone who appears like them. Officials say that it is not written on the head of anybody whether he is a terrorist or not and in that case, they have no other option except checking the suspects in order to maintain national security (Peek, 2011). Law enforcement agencies further add that instead of complaining about searches, checking, and interrogation, everyone should cooperate in maintaining law and order and in maintaining the national security of America.
The issue and its effects
In several instances, Muslims, Asians, Arabs, and other minorities have suffered severe difficulties by the hands of federal and state law enforcement agencies. The people of these races have been checked on roads, they have been intercepted on airports, they have been stopped and forced to leave their flights. Such behavior and treatment of law enforcement agencies has caused these people to several sufferings and huge losses (Bakalian & Bozorgmehr, 2009). They have always requested these agencies and the government to take appropriate steps in order to prevent the racial profiling of minorities.
9/11 has affected the issue in a dramatic manner. All promises of treating people with equality and without discrimination were kept aside. People of different races other than Americans were put on radars. Their activities were monitored and the areas, where they used to reside, were searched and put on the surveillance. Such practice of the law enforcement agencies raises a number of other problems that affect the society and national interest. It has a number of ramifications and affects the society substantially.
Discrimination and Sufferings
When the 9/11 took place, Muslims, Asians and Arabs were targeted by the law enforcement agencies. Immediately after the incident, hundreds of Muslims from Muslim countries were arrested and they were not allowed to meet their family or lawyers. When they were interrogated and nothing substantial was found, technical reasons were given for their arrest (Cainkar, 2004). Minor visa and passport issues were cited and these Muslims were deported to their countries.
USA patriot Act was passed by the US congress that introduced a number of changes in the existing federal criminal procedure, immigration laws, foreign intelligence surveillance laws, interception and tapping of telephones as well as other electronic devices of communication, laws to collect documentary evidences, along with several other laws. These changes empowered the federal agencies in a substantial manner and they became hyperactive in order to find the culprits of the 9/11.
John Ashcroft, Attorney General introduced the National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) in June 2002. This new law required a special registration of all males in case they belonged to any of 24 Muslim and gulf countries, mentioned in the list. These people were required to report themselves in the government record with their eye scan and thumb impression. In December 2002, hundreds of Muslim men and boys were arrested after voluntarily registering themselves in the NSEERS.
All the above mentioned arrests were made by the federal immigration officials on the basis of the records of NSEERS. In maximum cases, people were arrested for very petty mistakes like minor visa problems but were harassed like big criminals. This program registered a total 83,310 foreign nationals and most of them were Muslims. 13,740 people were deported to their respective nations after not single relevant information was found or recovered from these people.
Agencies like Federal Immigration authorities, customs, police, FBI, highway patrol, home land security targeted Muslims, Arabs, and others minority groups. They used to intercept these people wherever they saw them. They were randomly picked up by the police and were subjected to a number of enquiries and interrogation. Not only Muslims from other countries but American Muslims were also targeted in several instances. They were asked to reply questions like ‘why did you come into America’, ‘when did you embrace Islam’, ‘how often do you visit a mosque’, ‘which mosque do you visit’, have you studied in a madrassah, what are your future plans e.t.c (Gross and Livingston, 2002).
These steps turned into a nightmare for these minority groups and they suffered huge physical, mental and economic losses. Muslims were stereotyped as terrorists and apart from law implementing agencies, common people also started seeing them as terrorists. People started beating Muslims on roads and they were attacked at several occasions. Sikhs were also attacked because people believed they were Arabs. Such incidents were very dangerous for the society and this trend was hampering the social fabric of the society.
Muslims and Arabs were rigorously examined at the airports and they were treated in a different way than other passengers. Muslims, Hispanics, Sikhs, Arabs and Asians were denied jobs and people stopped using the services, provided by these people. There was a complete proscribing of these people in the society and one of major reasons of such behavior of people was the stereotyping of these people by the law enforcement agencies. Several intellectuals, groups, NGO’s, and human right organizations wanted the situation to be improved and also raised the voices for these people but failed to gain any support from the people as well as the administration.
The current situation
It has been a decade since the 9/11 and things are getting better but the gap remains there and a lot more has to be done in order to fill this gap. Muslims and Arabs will have to contribute in this episode by helping the law enforcement agencies. They will have to convince these agencies that terrorists are not their parts and they are as much patriot as other Americans are. Muslims should play their role in nabbing terrorists if they get to know about them.
The main problem that appears in this issue is the lack of faith in both the sides. The only solution that can contribute in solving this issue is the trust between both sides. Some confidence building measures are required to be taken by both the sides. Law enforcement agencies should also avoid unnecessary harassing innocent people. They should interrogate people on specific information and without any prejudice. Every Muslim is not a terrorist and they are an integral part of the society (Muller, 2003). Law enforcement agencies as well as the government have a bigger role to play. The authorities should be paying attention on the issue and they should seriously take some steps in order to improve the situation.
The major part has to be played by the American society. Common American will have to understand that stereotyping any individual or any group is painful and it hurts their sentiments. Americans should not differentiate on the basis of the religion or the region. Muslims and Arabs should be given ample opportunities in order to carry their business and they should be allowed to do other services in order to earn their livelihood. The America needs to settle this issue as soon as possible by taking effective measures.
Having observed the succinct analysis of the abovementioned subject, the paper can conclude that Muslims, Arabs, Hispanics, Sikhs and some other minority groups were put under a number of restrictions after the unfortunate incident of 9/11. They were considered very suspicious and were treated in a harsh manner. They were stereotyped as terrorists and law enforcement agencies used to harass them every when and then. These people were put under strict observation and the places where they used to stay, were closely monitored by the agencies. Not only the law enforcement agencies but common people also regarded Muslims and Arabs as terrorists.
These people suffered physically, mentally and economically after the incident of 9/11. They were completely proscribed by the administration and the society. They were treated in very despicable manner and always were seen with a suspicion. A number of people were deported and a number of people left voluntarily. The situation has improved a bit after one decade of the incident but only Muslims, Arabs and other minority groups can express how much they have suffered in a country that vows to be the flag bearer of human rights and the civil liberty.
Bakalian,A. P., & Bozorgmehr, M. (2009). Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond. California: University of California Press.
Cainkar, L. (2004). Post 9/11 Domestic Policies Affecting U. S. Arabs and Muslims: A Brief Review. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 24 , 245-248.
Gross, S. R. and Livingston, D. (2002). Racial Profiling under Attack. Columbia Law Review, 102(5) , 1413-1438.
Jamal, A. A., and Naber, N. C. (2008). Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects. New York: Syracuse University Press.
Muller, E. L. (2003). Inference or Impact - Racial Profiling and the Internment's True Legacy. Ohio St. Journal of Criminal Law , 103.
Peek, L. (2011). Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans After 9/11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press.