Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian American community leaders have
raised the issue of racial, ethnic and religious profiling at
airports and the border with the Obama administration.
The issue was raised during a meeting
Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called to
discuss joint efforts against domestic violent extremists, according
to Sikh Coalition, a community advocacy group.
Leaders from national and local
organizations representing these communities welcomed commitments by
Napolitano to promote meaningful, positive and authentic dialogue
even as they expressed concern about profiling that has eroded the
government's trust and credibility with the communities.
According to the coalition Napolitano
made several commitments to community leaders, including community
participation in an anti-violent extremism task force of the
Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Also proposed were regular, quarterly
meetings with the Secretary and education and training for
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership to promote
understanding of the Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian American
communities and their concerns.
Napolitano also promised an honest and
full discussion of legitimate grievances from members of these
communities about DHS policies that are ineffective and have a
deleterious, humiliating impact on these communities, the Sikh
Community leaders believe that
fulfilling these commitments would be a step forward in establishing
meaningful, open and authentic dialogue, the group said.
Community leaders also called for
changes to DHS policies that are ineffective and discriminate based
on race, ethnicity or religion.
These include rescinding a new
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) directive targeting
travellers from Pakistan and 12 other predominantly Muslim nations,
plus Cuba and revising a TSA directive on religious headwear, such
as turbans and headscarves.
The leaders also demanded limits on
interrogations and searches by Customs and Border Protection agents
that probe an American's faith, politics, finances or associations,
as well as cell phones, laptops and electronic devices, without any
evidence of wrongdoing.
(Arun Kumar can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)