This blog post is re-posted from here with permission from the author.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano recently highlighted her department’s efforts to reach out to build “stronger relationships with Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as South Asian communities across the country,” seemingly reflecting an awareness of how the war on terror has stigmatized and cast irrational suspicion on these groups. Despite the best of intentions, however, Napolitano’s self-assurance is premature. DHS’s engagement of vulnerable communities emphasizes form over substance and, historically, has amounted to mere public relations.
Outreach efforts conducted by the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), for instance, have long fallen short of repeated requests from vulnerable communities. Just last month, a coalition of over a dozen civil rights organizations issued a letter (PDF) to Secretary Napolitano reiterating a series of substantive and structural concerns, while proposing concrete solutions to fulfill the new administration’s promise to pay greater respect Read the rest of this entry »