U.S. to Continue Racial, Ethnic Profiling in Border Policy

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will soon issue new rules curtailing the use of profiling, but federal agents will still be allowed to consider race and ethnicity when stopping people at airports, border crossings and immigration checkpoints, according to several government officials.

The new policy has been in the works for years and will replace decade-old rules that banned racial profiling for federal law enforcement, but with specific exemptions for national security and border investigations. Immigration enforcement has proved to be the most controversial aspect of the Obama administration’s revisions, and law enforcement officials succeeded in arguing that they should have more leeway in deciding whom to stop and question.

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A United States Border Patrol agent checking passenger identifications on an Amtrak train in Depew, N.Y., in June. CreditJohn Moore/Getty Images

The administration is set to release the new rules in the midst of nationwide protests over recent decisions in New York and Ferguson, Mo., not to prosecute white police officers for the deaths of unarmed black men. President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. have called for calm between law enforcement and minorities.

The new rules expand the definition of racial profiling to include religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Under the rules, law enforcement officials cannot consider any of those factors, along with race, during criminal investigations, or during routine immigration cases away from the border. Agencies whose officers make traffic stops, such as the United States Park Police, may not use them as a reason to pull someone over. The rules will apply to local police assigned to federal task forces, but not local police agencies.

The rules also eliminate the broad exemption for taking into account those factors in cases involving national security, but F.B.I. agents will still be allowed to map neighborhoods and use that data to recruit informants from specific ethnic groups.

The debate over racial profiling in immigration enforcement, however, has delayed the release of the new rules for months. Mr. Holder, who was leading the policy review, told colleagues that he believed that border agents did not need to consider race or ethnicity. But the Department of Homeland Security resisted efforts to limit the factors it can consider when looking for illegal immigrants. Department officials argued that it was impractical to ignore ethnicity when it came to border enforcement.

“The immigration investigators have said, ‘We can’t do our job without taking ethnicity into account. We are very dependent on that,’ ” said one official briefed on the new rules. “They want to have the least amount of restrictions holding them back.”

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/06/us/politics/obama-to-impose-racial-profiling-curbs-with-exceptions.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1