Arab-Americans have a greater fear of racial profiling and immigration enforcement than of falling victim to hate crimes, says a national study financed by the Justice Department and reported by the New York Times. The two-year study by the Vera Institute concluded that local police officers and federal agents were straining under the pressure to fight terrorism, and that new federal policies in this effort were poorly defined and inconsistently applied. About 100 Arab-Americans and 111 federal and local law enforcement personnel participated in the study. Both Arab-American community leaders and law enforcement officials interviewed in the study said that cooperation between both groups had suffered from a lack of trust.
While hate crimes against Arab-Americans spiked after Sept. 11, 2001, they have decreased in the years since, according to both law enforcement and Arab-American respondents. Post-9/11 policies have sown the deepest fear among Arab-Americans, including unease about the USA Patriot Act, voluntary interviews of thousands of Arab-Americans by federal agents, and a “Special Registration” initiative in which more than 80,000 immigrant men were fingerprinted, photographed, and questioned by authorities. The study concluded that there was confusion among both FBI agents and the local police about their roles in enforcing immigration, and that their resources had been stretched thin by counterterrorism initiatives.