WASHINGTON (May 10, 2012) — U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, joined with Reps. Rush Holt (NJ-12), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Michael Honda (CA-15), and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02) today to introduce a resolution condemning the New York Police Department’s ethnic and religious profiling and warrantless surveillance of Muslim Americans. Following the bill’s introduction, Congresswoman Chu and Representative Holt released the following statements:
Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair: “As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am appalled that the New York Police Department is spying on the Muslim American community. National security must be a priority for this country, but if we destroy those things that make America great in the process, then what are we protecting in the first place? That’s why we’re introducing this resolution to reaffirm the liberties and rights that make America special. We cannot lose sight of the lessons of the past, when we allowed hysteria and scapegoating to lead to the internment over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Back then, there were not enough voices to stand up in opposition. But today, I am here to say to the NYPD: This is wrong.”
Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12): “Casting suspicion on people on the basis of their race, religion, or ethnicity without any legally valid reasons is not the way we behave in America. Profiling in policing is a substitute for thinking.”
As first revealed in extensive reporting by the Associated Press, the NYPD has conducted wide-scale warrantless surveillance of Muslims throughout the country, including at mosques and businesses in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. In many instances, the surveillance occurred in absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing – that is, organizations and individuals were surveilled solely on account of their religious affiliation.
The resolution introduced today is the first bill to condemn and stop the NYPD’s illicit tactics. The resolution finds that:
• The NYPD has engaged in extensive surveillance and investigation of the Muslim community beyond its jurisdiction and without a reasonable, articulable basis to suspect that these individuals and groups have engaged in unlawful conduct.
• The NYPD’s unreasonable suspicion-less surveillance undermines America’s commitment to religious liberty and equal protection of the law, and it stigmatizes innocent members of the Muslim community merely because of their religion – recalling other dark chapters in American history, including the internment of Japanese Americans and the illegal surveillance of civil rights and anti-war activists.
• Congress has allocated millions of dollars to the NYPD, and 34 members of Congress have sought a Justice Department investigation of the NYPD’s potential violations of law.
The resolution further “condemns the unjustified surveillance and unlawful profiling of Muslim American Communities… [and] demands that the New York Police Department cease and desist with any such warrantless surveillance activities within the United States and purge its intelligence database.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.