March 04, 2021

Cardin Legislation Finally Would Prohibit Racial and Religious Profiling By All Levels of Law Enforcement

“We have long needed a national standard prohibiting this dangerous practice and promoting uniform enforcement of equal justice for all.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Thursday introduced the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2021 (ERRPA) that would ban discriminatory profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement nationwide. ERRPA (S. 597) is designed to promote best practices in community-based law enforcement to strengthen enforcement of the right to equal protection under the law, which is one of our most basic constitutional principles.

“The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act takes an important step toward reforming our broken criminal justice system and dismantling the pervasive legacy of racial and religious profiling in our law enforcement system,” said Senator Cardin. “Discriminatory profiling wastes limited law enforcement resources and breeds distrust within communities. It unfairly targets individuals simply because of their race, religion, skin color, or country of origin, relying on harmful stereotypes and bias. This is wrong; it’s ineffective and, as we’ve seen far too often, it can be deadly. We have long needed a national standard prohibiting this dangerous practice and promoting uniform enforcement of equal justice for all.”

ERRPA is included as a key component of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House Wednesday and previously was approved in the 116th Congress.

Joining Senator Cardin as cosponsors of ERRPA for the 117th Congress are Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

“I thank our cosponsors and the supporting organizations who have been on the forefront of upholding the rule of law across our nation,” added Senator Cardin, who serves as the Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly.

“The NAACP is grateful and proud to endorse and work for the passage of the ‘End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2021’ and strongly thank Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and the other U.S. Senators who have already co-sponsored this crucial legislation for their courage and vision,” said Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau. “Racial, ethnic and religious profiling of Americans by law enforcement officials is a serious, painful, and dangerous problem in the United States, and as we see too often it can result in deadly consequences. This discriminatory practice consistently and severely undercuts the very trust and integrity in our law enforce community necessary to effectively engage community members as we work to coordinate the prevention and solving of crimes. The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2021 comprehensively addresses the insidious practice of biased treatment by law enforcement because of who you are, which God you worship, or who you are perceived to be.”

"Not only is profiling a fundamentally un-American policing tactic, it erodes community trust and is an ineffective law enforcement method. If stereotyping is allowed to be a substitute for legitimate criminal investigations, law enforcement's time and resources are diverted away from actual threats,” said Jennifer Bellamy, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel.

"The past year has further revealed the extent to which law enforcement rely on racial profiling to do their work — from the murder of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Police, to the FBI’s unethical and intrusive surveillance of Muslims using the MuslimPro app. Law enforcement agencies repeatedly show that they are capable of and willing to abuse legal loopholes to target Black and racialized Muslim communities. The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2021 (ERRPA) closes these loopholes and ensures that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are prohibited from employing racist, xenophobic, or otherwise bigoted stereotypes to systemically oppress and marginalize people of color. We must put an end to all forms of profiling through the passage of ERRPA,” said Simran Noor, Board Chair at South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The full text of ERRPA (S. 597) can be downloaded here. A section-by-section summary is available here.

The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA) is designed to eliminate racial and religious profiling through the following actions:

  • Prohibiting racial profiling, clearly defined in a standard definition as targeting on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This prohibition covers federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies carrying out criminal, immigration, or customs laws.
  • Authorizing both the Department of Justice and individuals harmed by violation of this Act to pursue injunctive or declaratory relief in courts of law.
  • Conditioning the receipt of federal law enforcement and other funding to state and local governments on their adoption of effective policies that prohibit profiling.
  • Authorizing the Department of Justice to provide grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling.
  • Mandating training on racial profiling issues as a part of federal law enforcement training as well as the collection and submission to the Department of Justice of data on all routine or spontaneous investigatory activities.
  • Requiring the Attorney General to provide periodic reports to assess the nature of any ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.

 

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