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In the final days of his administration, Barack Obama has the opportunity to leave a legacy of real change. Ending the National Security Entry-Exit Registration system, which profiled and deported many families in the wake of September 11, was a huge first step. Now Obama needs to finish what he promised -- he must have the Department of Homeland Security issue a long-overdue guidance that would provide our families with more protection and safety.
Here are five reasons why the president should direct Homeland Security to issue protections against profiling people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity in immigration enforcement:
1. Profiling makes all of us less safe and is bad policy.
Profiling has never been about public safety. Despite collecting data on thousands of Muslim, immigrant, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and black individuals deemed threats, the PATRIOT Act never resulted in a single conviction. Stop-and-frisk was deemed ineffective and unconstitutional. Profiling does not increase public safety and only increases anger and resentment toward the government from those unfairly targeted.
2. Profiling by the state encourages hate crimes by individuals.
When I am pulled over while going through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints because I "look suspicious," those watching perceive that brown and gender-nonconforming people are potential threats. When an immigrant is pulled over for "looking suspicious," bigots find justification for their xenophobic actions. The rhetoric of the recent election has caused hate crimes to surge nationwide. President Obama could challenge this trend by changing our national profiling policies.
3. Seventy percent of Americans oppose profiling already.
Thanks to the tireless work of Black Lives Matter leaders, queer Muslim organizers, immigrants' rights advocates, and our racial justice movements, more Americans see profiling as unjust. In a recent poll, over 70 percent of Americans opposed the use of racial profiling by police departments.
4. Our communities deserve safety.
On the most basic level of human rights and decency, our communities deserve to feel safe. Many have never felt "safe" in this country. Our communities deserve as many protections and safeguards as possible. Every person deserves to feel safe and secure in their homes and their cities. Without protections against profiling, we can never feel truly safe, nor truly at home in this country.
5. We need every protection we can get before Donald Trump takes office.
With Trump threatening a Muslim registry, a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and continued mass deportations, we need every protection we can get, and we need them now.
Currently there is no U.S. policy against profiling in immigration enforcement. In the closing week of 2016 the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, a federation of LGBT Asian-American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander organizations, submitted model guidance language for policy prohibiting profiling in immigration law enforcement to President Obama and Homeland Security.
It has never been more urgent to end profiling. We urge the president to take immediate action on this issue.
SASHA W. is the organizing director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.