Racial profiling to be further limited by the Justice Department

United States federal agents will soon face stiffer requirements on the use of racial profiling in their investigations, including in immigration cases. The Justice Department recently announced that it will expand its definition of racial profiling to include religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation.

This new policy should have an immediate impact on immigration enforcement in particular, as the move was made in direct response to ongoing criticism from civil rights groups about the singling out of Latinos in immigration cases. Muslims will also likely face less scrutiny in national security investigations as a result of the new policy.

Putting an end to racial profiling
The move to end racial profiling in America began under former President George W. Bush, but the policy changes undertaken by his administration only applied to race, not religion or ancestry. And in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, much of that intended reform was put on the back burner.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has spoken out against racial profiling in the past, and this new approach, which he outlined in a meeting with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, falls in line with comments he’s made during his tenure.

“Racial profiling is wrong,” Holder said in a 2010 speech, according to The New York Times. “It can leave a lasting scar on communities and individuals. And it is, quite simply, bad policing – whatever city, whatever state.”

However, the new rules will only apply to federal agents. The hope, though, is that the standard set on the federal level will quickly filter down to state and local authorities.

It is unclear when an official announcement will be made, as the Justice Department is still reviewing any possible new guidelines. Nonetheless, this imminent reform should be beneficial for immigrants, many of whom live under a cloud of fear of possible traffic stops and criminal investigations based solely on their national origin.