Sikh Americans have rejected new racial profiling guidelines of the US government alleging that the rules are flawed and misleading.
Although the new guidance explicitly recognises that discriminatory profiling is “unfair” and “ineffective”, and that biased practices “promote mistrust of law enforcement, and perpetuate negative and harmful stereotypes” — it still allows discriminatory profiling by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), alleged Sikh Coalition, a Sikh rights group.
Both CBP and TSA are components of the US Department of Homeland Security, the largest law enforcement agency in the federal government.
“This guidance is like a used car with new paint. The car looks better, but once you look underneath the hood, you realise it’s unsafe to drive,” said Rajdeep Singh, director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition.
The new guidance also does not apply to state and local law enforcement activities and will not address gaps in trust at the grassroots level between police and the communities they serve, the Sikh Coalition said.
“This is one step forward, 10 steps back. The new guidance recognises that profiling is wrong but then gives CBP a green light to profile ethnic and religious minorities at the border, and continues to give TSA carte blanche authority to profile travellers based on stereotypes,” Singh said.
Since the inception of TSA, the Sikh Coalition has led efforts to promote accountability at the agency, in particular by repeatedly demanding an independent audit of TSA screening practices to prevent discriminatory profiling.
In response to persistent complaints of profiling from Sikhs at American airports, the Sikh Coalition in April 2012 launched a free smartphone app called FlyRights, which allows travellers to file official complaints with the TSA.