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ADC Reiterates Objection to Government Investigations Based on Racial Profiles

Washington, DC — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has reiterated its opposition to government investigations of thousands of individuals based on national origin, gender and age. Attorney General John Ashcroft today announced that the Justice Department intends to launch a new investigation into 3,000 non- citizens, similar to an investigation of 5,000 people, mostly young Arab men, which was launched in November. ADC considers this to be a form of racial profiling, which it opposes as a tool of law enforcement.
ADC President Ziad Asali said “ADC was opposed to this policy in November and we are opposed to it now. The Arab-American community is as committed as any other segment of American society to ensuring our nation’s security, but this is clearly a form of racial profiling which we believe has no place in American law enforcement. The Attorney General rightly spoke today of the strong level of cooperation between law enforcement agencies and community groups such as ADC. We did indeed cooperate with the authorities to ensure that this process went as smoothly as possible and did not result in widespread abuses or personal tragedies. We are ready to continue to play our part in conferring with the authorities, advising the community of its legal rights, providing legal referrals and attending the interviews as observers when possible. But with all due respect, the Attorney General is wrong to think that these investigations have created a greater level of trust between the Arab-American community and law enforcement. Broad-based investigations of thousands of people, especially when based on an ethnic profile, inevitably spread fear and anxiety in any community.”
ADC notes that many law enforcement experts and officials, including chiefs of police in some areas, agree that investigating thousands of people based on such broad criteria is an ineffective method of law enforcement and constitutes an unacceptable form of racial profiling.
ADC urges the Justice Department to respect, and to ensure that local authorities involved also respect, the civil liberties of those it seeks to interview. Everyone in the United States has the right to have an attorney present at all times when being questioned by the authorities and has the right to decline to answer questions.