Returning Home: How U.S. Government Practices Undermine Civil Rights At Our Nation’s Doorstep


This landmark 56-page report makes key recommendations geared towards ending intrusive profiling practices targeting U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Co-authored by the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, the report entitled, “Returning Home: How U.S. Government Practices Undermine Civil Rights At Our Nation’s Doorstep” addresses how profiling practices by the United States government at our borders have undermined civil liberties and diverted law enforcement attention from those individuals who may actually present a threat.

“Returning Home” calls on the Obama Administration to rectify the government’s currently flawed procedures for updating, reviewing, and cleansing the existing ‘watchlist.” “Overbroad and intrusive questioning of ordinary Americans at the border doesn’t just violate their constitutionally protected rights, it instills fear, anxiety, and insecurity in targeted communities, inhibits cultural exchange, and strains U.S. diplomatic relationships abroad” stated Veena Dubal, an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus.

Recommendations include:

  •      Enact the Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act to establish standards for border searches of electronic devices, including the requirement of reasonable suspicion for such searches.
  •      Enact the End Racial Profiling Act to prohibit law enforcement agencies from relying on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in border inspections.
  •      The Government Accountability Office and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board should investigate the civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy concerns presented by CBP inspections.
  •      DHS should record and publish information on the gender, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and nationality (as known or perceived) of travelers subjected to special security measures.
  •      DHS should establish stricter standards for incorporating government terrorist watchlist records into CBP’s screening database.
  •      The Terrorist Screening Center should conduct a comprehensive review and cleansing of the records in the government’s consolidated terrorist watchlist.

The Returning Home report also features first hand accounts of individuals ranging from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to therapists counseling impoverished mentally ill patients; all of whom experienced unjust racial profiling at the U.S. border. The report has gained the support of members of Congress, among them Rep. Michael Honda, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. He says of the report:  ”Having spent part of my childhood in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II, I know from personal experience why we must protect the civil liberties of everyone in our country especially during times of threat and war. Even as over half a century has passed since that shameful internment of Japanese Americans, racial profiling today is still rampant particularly against ethnic minorities at our nation’s borders and airports. I commend the Asian Law Caucus for issuing this important report, and look forward to continuing our work together to combat racial profiling at a national level.

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