Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison takes issue with the assertion that Congress is in a cost-cutting mode. At a American Civil Liberties Union panel on racial profiling yesterday, Ellison was asked what kinds of conversations are happening in Congress around the costs of profiling.

<p class="MsoNormal">Ellison said he didn't buy that Congress was actually cutting costs---except in ways that further conservative ideological goals. "We can't afford home heating oil for seniors," he said, meanwhile pouring money into defense and surveillance is getting "ramped up."</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">"We should be extremely careful with the American public dollar," Ellison said.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Racial profiling is happening in the U.S. on three major levels, according the the ACLU. There's historic racism in policing, like stop and frisk policies; there's intelligence gathering and racial mapping being conducted by the FBI largely in Muslim communities; and there's immigration and border enforcement profiling.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">On the last point, the ACLU says that under the Secure Communities program, 93 percent of people deported have been Latino---yet Latinos only make of 75 percent of undocumented immigrants.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Members of the panel didn't hesitate to call profiling immigrants illegal. Joanne Lin, a legislative counsel for the ACLU said, "The words of our constitution apply to every person within the borders of this country, whether they're citizens or not."</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Moreover, under Secure Communities, 60 percent of people deported did not have serious crimes on their records---which runs in direct contradiction to Homeland Security's contention that only the "worst of the worst" are being targeted.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">The ACLU's Mike German, a former FBI agent, says that profiling members of the Muslim community is counterproductive: "Racial profiling makes people of color less likely to report activity to the government," he said. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal">These days, he added, "suspicious activities" are often innocuous as taking notes or photographs. Lin says these activities "stand in as a proxy to justify citizens using their bias to report."</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">And historic racism in policing continues. Programs like "stop and frisk" in New York lead to black men being stopped more frequently, detained longer, and subdued with more violent tactics---even though white people who get stopped are more likely to have illicit items on their persons.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">The ACLU is supporting a bill called the End Racial Profiling Act, which was re-introduced earlier this month and is intended to eliminate racial profiling in law enforcement.</p>