Justice Department to expand ban on profiling

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Story highlights

  • New policy won't affect law enforcement agencies that fall under Homeland Security
  • Rules are product of nearly five years of internal debate
  • Some FBI agents says they worry new rules will make it more difficult to do their jobs
The Justice Department plans to expand a ban on ethnic and religious profiling in federal investigations, ending an exemption for national security investigations, sources tell CNN.
But the Obama administration's plans to have a government-wide policy are on hold because the Department of Homeland Security won't adopt the new rules for its agencies, which include Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In a concession to national security officials, the new Justice Department rules also still would allow federal agents to recruit informants based on ethnic data.
The DHS exemption is a major concession for Obama administration officials and some supporters in Congress who have sought a broader ban on profiling.
The new rules are nearing completion after nearly five years of internal debate, and the Justice Department is expected to announce them in the coming weeks. Two U.S. law enforcement officials familiar with the changes described them to CNN.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out against profiling in a recent visit to Ferguson, Missouri, citing his own experience as a young prosecutor when police stopped him in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.
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The new Justice Department policy would expand the profiling ban to include religion, national origin, sexual orientation and gender.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday on the near completion of the profiling rules.
The new policy replaces one put in place in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which exempted national security investigations from guidelines that generally prohibit profiling.
As Holder pushed for changes to the profiling policy, he faced pushback from the FBI, which reports to him, and ultimately from DHS.
Some FBI agents have said the changes will make their work harder to carry out. But in the end the bureau decided it could live with changes that permit certain agents to target certain communities for recruitment of informants.
Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates and a supporter of a broader ban on profiling, says allowing Homeland Security agencies to continue under the old policy would raise concerns.
"After 9/11 the pendulum has swung too far," she said, citing experiences of Muslims, including American citizens, who are questioned at ports of entry. "There's been a pattern of incidents in recent years," she said.
A Homeland Security official said the agency continues to work with the Justice Department to produce the new profiling policy.