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Copyright (c) 2002 The George Washington Law Review
The George Washington Law Review

NOTE: Asian Americans, Racial Profiling, and National Security

February, 2002

70 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 181


Jonathan R. DeFosse*


Although this Note was written several months before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, its topic is uniquely relevant to the American cultural and legal landscape that was reshaped on September 11th. Specifically, this Note asks whether concerns for national security can justify the practice of racial profiling.

In the wake of the attacks there has been increasing public support for the use of racial profiling as a tactic to identify would-be terrorists. One Los Angeles Times poll taken shortly after the attacks found that sixty-eight percent of Americans would now support subjecting Arab and Arab American passengers to increased scrutiny based on their race. 1 The poll indicates that many people are willing to sacrifice the civil liberties of some Americans in return for increased security for all Americans. 2 As this Note explains, this is not the first time that Americans have been willing to turn to racial profiling in response to a national security threat.

One of the most common analogies offered after the events of September 11th has been to compare those terrorist attacks to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 3 In the wake of the Japanese attack, the perceived threat to national security lead President Franklin Roosevelt to issue Executive Order No. 9066, which gave the military authority to intern, without cause, thousands of Japanese Americans. 4 The Supreme Court upheld the internment, citing a compelling government interest in protecting national security. 5 Since the ...
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