Race is not a crime

By Armando Bellmas

This week is National End Racial Profiling Advocacy Week, a week-long, nationwide effort to call attention to and end the discriminatory practice of racial profiling.

Why is this important to our community? Because the recent rash of anti-immigrant legislation, along with enforcement programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities, has increased the amount of racial profiling incidents and has fostered a climate of insecurity among Latinos and other immigrant communities. That’s just wrong and unsafe.

A Justice Strategies report from 2009 found that the 287(g) program promotes racial profiling and targets Latino communities, not high crime areas. 61% of jurisdictions that had entered into 287(g) agreements had crime rates that were lower than the national average and 87% of those jurisdictions were undergoing an increase in their Latino populations higher than the national average.

Such was the case in Arizona’s Maricopa County. A three-year investigation into the abusive practices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office by the Department of Justice revealed a pattern and practice of civil rights abuses, including extreme cases of racial profiling. The enormity of the violations, the majority of which were experienced by immigrants and Latinos, led the Department of Homeland Security, on December 15, 2011, to suspend its 287(g) cooperation agreement with the sheriff’s office and restrict their access to immigration databases through the Secure Communities program. (The case is still pending as of this post.)

Racial profiling is a huge problem in our community. Increased and consistent awareness of the issue is one of the goals of National End Racial Profiling Advocacy Week. We will continue to give voice to this critical issue, this week and beyond, and help end racial profiling for Latinos, immigrants, and all communities.

[Photo courtesy of Daquella manera]

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