The New York Times reports that the Justice Department will expand its definition of racial profiling to exclude considerations of religion, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation. There is no timetable for when the changes will be announced or take effect, but Attorney General Eric Holder reportedly conveyed the plans to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday.
While racial profiling has been banned by the Justice Department since 2003, it has come with some exceptions: national security cases were excluded from the restrictions and it, as the term implies, only applied to race.
The changes—the announcement of which a senior Congressional aide described as "imminent"—come as the new mayor of NYC comes into office partially on a campaign against the city's controversial stop-and-frisk policies, which critics say unjustly targets minorities. Though the changes only cover federal agencies like the FBI, they still influence state and local policies. The NYPD has been in hot water for the past two years over reports that they specifically focused their spying operations on Muslim communities.
In August, a federal judge ruled the practice unconstitutional, though an appeals court allowed the NYPD to resume the procedure in October. Since 2002, nearly 90 percent of those investigated under stop-and-frisk have been innocent, and more than 80 percent of the investigated have been black or Latino.