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Reflecting on our loss and reclaiming our rights- new report and video on racial profiling post 9/11

From the Rights Working Group-

Last week, the Rights Working Group released a new report, Reclaiming Our Rights: Reflections on Racial Profiling in a Post-9/11 America at a press conference. The report offers a variety of perspectives on the expansion of racial profiling in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and how the federal government’s increased powers of surveillance, detention and access to private information impacted people of Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian descent along with migrants and people thought to be migrants.  The report also discusses how the issue of racial profiling – a longtime problem in black, Native American and Latino communities – became more widespread and far-reaching after 9/11 and how the broad congressional support for passing the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) in the summer of 2001 diminished. The report makes recommendations to the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Congress – among them is passage of ERPA – that would seek to not only prohibit racial profiling but provide greater oversight of law enforcement with regard to civil rights protections. [Read Report Here]

As a complimentary multimedia piece to the report, Breakthrough and Rights Working Group released Checkpoint Nation?  Building Community Across Borders last week. Filmed in Arizona, the documentary is about racial profiling, multiracial solidarity, and immigration enforcement at the border.

Early one morning, Maria—then nine months pregnant—and her family were stopped by the police for no discernible reason. A special breakfast outing became a nightmare—and at one of the most intimate moments of her life, Maria found a team of immigration agents—not her husband—by her side.

Maria’s chilling story is the centerpiece of “Checkpoint Nation?” a documentary that depicts the reality of post-9/11 racial profiling — as mandated by laws such as SB 1070 in Arizona, which are now being imitated and implemented nationwide — along with the new and strengthening alliances of diverse groups committed to racial justice.

Set in the U.S./Mexico border area near Tucson, Arizona, a region that sees more and more migrant deaths every year, the video explores the idea that the way to move forward is to find connections and build coalitions among between diverse groups of allies — including Muslim-, South Asian-, African-, and Latino-Americans; civil rights lawyers and media activists — that have identified with each other’s histories and united in the common goals of justice, equality, and respect for all.

Ten years after 9/11, there is an urgent need to pass federal legislation to ban all forms of racial profiling, and to end programs and policies that result in racial profiling.  If you haven’t already, sign the petition to tell President Obama that it is time to end racial profiling.  [Sign the Petition Here]

Here’s what you can do to join the chorus calling for an end to racial profiling:


“Illegal alien” Halloween costume sets off firestorm

Picture 3On Friday, news started emerging about a racist and offensive ‘illegal alien’ costume being sold for Halloween on Target, Toys R Us, Walgreens, Amazon and a host of other retailers. Pressure from immigration activists including CHIRLA, United Farm Workers and LULAC helped pull some of the costumes of the shelves – while Target and Toys R Us pulled the costume off their websites, Walgreens showed it as out of stock.

There has been no official announcement from Amazon but it appears that the costumes have been pulled.

The costume, described by CHIRLA as “distasteful, mean-spirited, and ignorant of social stigmas and current debate on immigration reform” consists of “orange prison-style jumpsuit with illegal alien printed on the front, an alien mask and a green card.”

The mixed messages in the costume are mind boggling. A green card means legal status, therefore one isn’t quite sure what that’s doing as part of the costume – unless of course all immigrants are criminals. Being undocumented in the country is a civil offense – not a criminal offense – therefore why is a prison jumpsuit (which looks closely like uniforms worn by people held in Guantanamo) featured at all. Worst of all is the alien mask – clearly denoting how all outsiders are aliens. Maybe its even silly to try and break down such a costume but one can’t help it when Fox news is asking where America’s sense of humor is? And when William Gheen, president of anti-immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC’s President has offered to conduct interviews wearing the costume.

In an even more disturbing and offensive twist, Fox ends their depiction of the news with, “if you’re here illegally, go to your local police station and tell them how outraged you are because you’re an illegal alien and this costume offends you!”

Perpetuating racism and discrimination, this is only one in a line of costumes, designed to provoke fear and hostility towards outsiders. Here are two more costumes from Party City and Halloween Express that do just that.

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Keep up with UFW’s petition putting pressure on Amazon and other retailers to pull offensive costumes off their shelves.

Image courtesy of www.amazon.com