PAKPAC Expresses Concern at New York Times Article

Maryland: The Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC) has expressed concern about a “recent article in New York Times (May 2nd 2007)” in which a “story suggested that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Secretary Chertoff are pressing to change the visa waiver program with the British government to require British passport holders of Pakistani origin to be required to have a visa to enter the US.
In a press release, PAKPAC said: “This suggestion is of grave concern to PAKPAC. If this was true it would be a clear case of racial, ethnic and religious profiling, which is against the United States laws, but also against the human rights principles. Because of PAKPACs concern and the role in educating and working with the Pakistani-American community the Depart of Homeland Security has already reached out to us and communicated with PAKPAC about the erroneous reporting by NY times on this issue. In his communication with PAKPAC, Mr. Daniel Sutherland the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the US Department of Homeland Security communicated the following:
“‘The article claims that Secretary Chertoff is seeking for ways to prevent British citizens of Pakistani national origin from traveling to the United States. I wanted to let you know as soon as I could that the article is completely inaccurate on this point. The below article contains (Reuters article) the official DHS position on this matter. As you know, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties provides guidance and training to DHS personnel and leaders on the Department's policy on racial and ethnic profiling. We will work to ensure the article does not lead to misconceptions, and appreciate your thoughts as well’.

“The excerpts from the article mentioned by Mr. Sutherland are as follows:
“‘A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security also said there were "inaccuracies" in the story. "We flatly reject the notion of profiling based upon ethnicity, religion, sex, age, what have you. Country of origin as well," the spokesman told BBC radio. "We are pleased with the visa waiver program but we have been on record with our desire to strengthen the visa waiver program."
“ ‘A spokeswoman for Britain's Home Office (interior ministry) denied that Chertoff and Reid had discussed any particular group of people at their meeting.
"’The suggestion that groups of British citizens of a particular background should be singled out was not made at the meeting and neither would it have been acceptable," she said.
“PAKPAC will remain engaged with the Department of Homeland Security on this very challenging situation. There has been serious unease amid a wave of terrorism trials in Britain in which Britons of Pakistani origin have either been accused of or found guilty of planning or carrying out attacks.
”PAKPAC strongly feel that any form of racial, ethnic, religious profiling will not only be counterproductive, but alienate a well integrated large segment of the American population which continues to work towards the growth and stability of United States along with all other immigrant and non immigrant communities.”


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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