What is Racial Profiling?


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Racial profiling is the targeting of individuals based solely on ethnicity or nationality rather than on indvidual suspicion. Racial profiling has long been used in the United States. It was used during WWll when Japanese Americans were systematically and arbitrarily arrested and held in jails following the attack on Pearl Harbor.


After the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States engaged in more racial profiling. The government engaged in the arbitrary detention and interrogation of hundreds, and possibly thousands of men from Arab, Muslim and South Asian countries. Many were finger- printed, photographed and questioned.


In 2014, at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint in Arivaca, Arizona it was found that vehicle occupants who appeared to be Latino were 26 times more likely to be asked to show identification than white-looking vehicle occupants. And in 2012, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation in Alamance County, North Carolina, found that the sheriff had instructed deputies to specifically target Latinos in traffic stops.The DOJ would later conclude that the county demonstrated an “egregious pattern of racial profiling” – a violation of the 14th Amendment (equal protection under the law).


Racial Profiling refers to the discriminatory practice of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based solely on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Japanese Americans were racially profiled during WW2. Muslims and people of Arab and South Asian descent following 9/11 and Latinos (and others of Hispanic-origin) continue to be racial profiled.