LOS ANGELES – CHIRLA, in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU-SC), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) and Rights Working Group released a report this week, “Faces of Racial Profiling: A Report from Communities Across America”, underscoring the need to address racial, ethnic, religious and national origin profiling across the country and finding that the patchwork of laws dealing with racial profiling have created a system that is too burdensome for victims of profiling to navigate. The following are comments by Carl Bergquist, policy advocate at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a regional human and immigrant rights organization in Los Angeles.
“The report presents a unified call for reform from many individuals across the country who have thus far remained in the shadows and suffering silent. The hearings we held in various cities throughout the nation clearly demonstrated how the various guises of racial profiling affect all communities of color. We heard stories from diverse communities that have faced the humiliating practice of racial profiling and that underscore the need to stop racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officers. The report gives concrete recommendations for federal state and local governments to combat racial profiling in all of its forms.
Though constitutional protections and federal laws relevant to racial profiling exist, there are major hurdles to file complaints and access the courts. An individual cannot just file suit in a case of alleged racial profiling but is forced to sue the entire institution, creating an almost insurmountable obstacle for people to look towards the judicial system for help. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division attempts to provide an avenue for change that can have a larger impact on communities, like the temporary injunction against SB1070, it has limited capacity to respond to complaints and initiate investigations.
In the absence of clear national policies to eliminate racial profiling, some states and local jurisdictions have implemented laws to try and fill the gap. Where they exist, laws vary in their intent, prohibitions and effectiveness, creating a patchwork that can vary drastically from state to state and even city to city.”