Today marks the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that "[a]ll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." The principles laid out in this historic document bear a resemblance to another declaration that is at the foundation of the United States. The Declaration of Independence states, "That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
It is those principles that we celebrate today. Yet we continually fail to live up to these standards. For example, the problem of racial profiling is still pervasive today, despite ample evidence of its ineffectiveness as a law enforcement tool and its clear violation of human rights.
Throughout U.S. history minority communities have been marginalized by the practice of racial profiling. While traditionally seen as mainly affecting African Americans and Latinos, after 9/11, there was an increase in racial and religious profiling targeting Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities. Department of Homeland Security's implementation of 287(g) program, Criminal Alien Program and the Secure Communities Initiative has resulted in many allegations of racial profiling and harassment of Latino communities. Rather than reduce racial profiling, instances of profiling have increased in recent years.
On September 28, 2009 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination sent a letter urging the Obama administration and Congress to do more to end racial profiling. The Committee called on the United States to pass the End Racial Profiling Act; to revise the June 2003 Department of Justice Federal Guidance on Racial Profiling to better stop profiling by federal agents; and to end programs like the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System and 287(g) which have resulted in racial and religious profiling.
It is time that we celebrate more than just the ideals imbued in these declarations and put those ideals and principles into practice. It is time to face the truth and end racial profiling in America.
Rights Working Group Washington DC