WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), took to the Senate floor today to urge his colleagues to pass legislation ending racial profiling by all law enforcement agencies in the United States.
“I’m a strong supporter of our independent Judicial Branch and the grand jury system, but I understand the frustration felt by so many Americans. After the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, which were heaped on top of incidents in Florida, California, and elsewhere around the country, it’s no wonder that people – especially people of color – are losing confidence that we have a system where all of our citizens are treated equally under the law. The initial suspicion for many is that individuals were stopped solely because of the color of their skin, not because they were observed in criminal activities. That’s discriminatory profiling, and it’s just plain wrong. Discriminatory profiling is un-American and not what we believe in. It is a waste of precious resources and it turns communities against law enforcement.
“I welcome the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder of an update of guidance for federal law enforcement agencies that prohibits, for the first time, profiling based on new categories such as national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, and sexual orientation, while also closing certain loopholes and narrowing some exemptions. I was pleased to see that this guidance mandates new data collection, which will make it easier to track profiling complaints. I am wholly disappointed that this updated guidance does not extend to state and local law enforcement, nor does it fully cover the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection, all of which should be covered. I believe the Attorney General could have gone further, and should have gone further, but his actions only make it clearer that Congress must act to make permanent a ban on discriminatory profiling and hold police accountable for engaging in discriminatory profiling, by passing the End Racial Profiling Act (S. 1038). Only Congress can close these harmful loopholes for good and dissolve some of the mistrust of law enforcement in our minority communities. DOJ has moved in the right direction but this new guidance is truly a missed opportunity.”