Pax Christi USA endorses the letter (below) of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights which expresses strong support for the immigration reform principles’ commitment to a roadmap to citizenship–which should be broad, welcoming, and not contingent upon more border enforcement. PCUSA also supports the inclusion of language in any immigration bill that strengthens prohibitions against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force, but a bill which also enhances the training of border patrol agents, increases oversight, and creates a mechanism for meaningful opportunity for border communities to share their input.
Dear Senators Leahy and Schumer:
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the undersigned national organizations, we express our strong support for the immigration reform principles’ commitment to a roadmap to citizenship—which should be broad, welcoming, and not contingent upon more border enforcement. We also support the inclusion of language in any immigration bill that will not only strengthen prohibitions against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force, but also enhance the training of border patrol agents, increase oversight, and create a mechanism for a meaningful opportunity for border communities to share their input.
Racial profiling is the use of race, color, ethnicity, religion, or national origin, by law enforcement agents as a factor in deciding whom to question, investigate, stop, search, or arrest, except where these characteristics are part of a specific suspect description. It results in serious human rights violations, the misallocation of law enforcement resources, and is an ineffective law enforcement practice. Racial profiling is a pervasive and harmful practice that negatively impacts both individuals and communities, resulting in a loss of trust and confidence in local, state, and federal law enforcement. Individuals and communities impacted by racial profiling are less likely to cooperate with law enforcement agencies they have grown to mistrust, which hinders criminal investigations and makes all communities less safe.
Immigration and border enforcement measures, including routine actions by state and local law enforcement seeking to determine an individual’s immigration status, entail a risk of racial profiling. For example, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claims jurisdiction within 100 miles of all U.S. borders. Some agents have focused their attention on people of color without regard to citizenship merely because they are perceived to look or sound “foreign.”[i] These discriminatory practices have understandably led immigrant communities and communities of color to fear and avoid police.
Immigration enforcement programs have expanded their scope and partnerships to the point where every law enforcement agency – federal, state, tribal and local – plays a role. The devolution of immigration enforcement to state and local law enforcement has exacerbated racial profiling. Federal programs like the Criminal Alien Program, the 287(g) program and Secure Communities along with state laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 have created incentives for the police to make pre-textual arrests based on racial stereotypes and other impermissible bases so that immigration status can be checked.[ii] In order to address racial profiling in the context of immigration enforcement, Congress should include in the upcoming legislation a strong reaffirmation of federal preemption over state and local immigration enforcement, and all law enforcement agencies must be held accountable.
Our nation’s immigration laws should reflect the values of fair and equal treatment and due process under the law. Current federal law enforcement guidance and state laws provide incomplete solutions to the nationwide problem of racial profiling.
We strongly urge you to support this vital component of immigration reform legislation, which would ensure that law enforcement and transportation security agencies are prohibited from impermissibly using race, color ethnicity, national origin, or religion in carrying out their duties.
Please feel free to contact Lexer Quamie, Senior Counsel at The Leadership Conference at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 466-3648 or Nancy Zirkin at email@example.com or (202) 263-2880. We thank you for your serious attention to this matter.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and co-signers