- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2005

Profiling is constitutional

The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued to stop police from randomly searching some New York City subway riders, charging that it might lead to racial profiling (“Timid on terrorism,” Commentary, Aug. 4). But racial profiling — considering race or ethnicity in determining whom to search — is itself constitutional if done in accordance with guidelines the U.S. Supreme Court has laid down.

The court has frequently held that the government may consider race if it is reasonably necessary to further a “compelling state interest.” Recently, it found that race could be considered in college admissions. Obviously, the government’s interest in protecting the lives of thousands of citizens from a major terrorist attack is at least as “compelling” as a better college education. In other words, because preventing another major terrorist attack is obviously a very “compelling state interest,” some reasonable use of ethnicity is permitted.

The court also has held that ethnicity cannot be the controlling factor, but must be considered along with other criteria. These other criteria might include dress (e.g., wearing heavy clothing in warm weather, carrying a backpack with visible wires, etc.), behavior (e.g., nervousness or inappropriate sweating, absence of eye contact, pacing, etc.) or age.

Most Arabs — even most young Arab males — aren’t terrorists, but neither are all people who appear nervous, wear heavy clothing or pace. Using ethnicity — along with gender and age — as one of several factors is arguably much more likely to find and stop a terrorist than searches that include as many elderly black men and middle-aged Chinese and Caucasian women as young Arab males.

Most women over 40 don’t have breast cancer, but we concentrate our scarce resources searching for breast cancer among that group — rather than among younger women or even men — because the likelihood of finding it among them is much greater.

Police seeking to prevent organized extortion by Chinese triad gangs would logically tend to question young Asian men, and few would argue that they must evenhandedly seek out blacks or Hispanics in their investigations.

Similarly, in conducting searches designed to stop terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists, its hard to see how using ethnicity as only one of many factors would be unconstitutional.


Professor of public interest law

George Washington University Law School


Problems with a ‘guest workers’ program

The column “‘Guest’ worker wilderness” by Victor Davis Hanson (Commentary, Saturday) was very illuminating and highlights Congress’ feeble attempts to solve the illegal-alien crisis. Illegal workers are not cheap labor, but labor that is subsidized by American taxpayers in the form of free schooling, health care, and other social benefits.

Any form of amnesty should be unacceptable. Guest-worker programs should only be created if our government can assure that these workers return to their home country when the jobs are done. However, most Americans realize that “there is nothing so permanent as a ‘temporary’ guest worker.” Our nation should not be concerned with guest-worker programs or with the plight of Mexican workers. Before any guest-worker program should be considered, our borders must be secured against the invasion taking place, employers must be systematically fined and/or jailed for hiring illegals and Americans should be recruited for these jobs at a decent, living wage.


Rochester Hills, Mich.

Victor Davis Hanson, in “‘Guest’ worker wilderness,” details the problems the United States had with the “braceros” back in the 1950s and 1960s. These were, as he says, essentially the “guest workers” that the Bush administration is proposing now, and we will have the same problems with the guest workers that we had with the braceros.

Mr. Hanson’s solution, however, will not work. He proposes that we strictly enforce our immigration laws, allow more legal immigration and pay agricultural workers more, including health care, pensions and disability. While the first two are realistic and constructive, the third is not.

This economic reality was detailed by Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations.” The workers at the very bottom cannot make more than subsistence wages — just enough to live. If they demand more, they can be replaced by those who have no job at all. Those replacements are the illegal immigrants we have now, and the braceros we had decades ago. If we prevent illegal immigration (a very good thing to do) and force our agribusinesses to pay too much for their unskilled labor, we will do nothing but put them out of business. Cheap imports, harvested in Third World countries by workers paid subsistence wages will push our farming business out of the market (we already get a lot of strawberries from Mexico). Our well-paid farm workers will be unemployed as a result.

To protect the farm workers from cheap imports, we will have to impose tariffs on such products. This will, of course, drive up the prices, since we will be paying more for food in the form of workers’ wages and tariffs. The rising price of food will again put those workers at subsistence level.

So, how do we solve this problem? The answer is, we can’t. Unskilled workers will always be on the bottom. Communism attempted to break that economic reality, and to raise the lowest permanently above subsistence. The horror that was the Soviet Union, and that is still China, is the result. The cure was worse than the disease, and it still did not work.



Development aid is not a ‘U.N.-imposed tax’

Thomas Kilgannon’s “Woes beyond oil-for-food” (Commentary, Thursday) is replete with inaccuracies. For example, he incorrectly says that a commitment by countries at the Monterrey Conference in 2002 to target 0.7 percent of their Gross National Product for development is an “annual U.N.-imposed $75 billion tax on the American economy.” The United States did join the Monterrey Consensus, committing to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) — which is development aid and not a “U.N.-imposed tax,” channeled directly to recipient governments and voluntary organizations, with only a minuscule proportion disbursed through the United Nations.

Indeed, the United States played a leading role in the creation of the ODA concept, which goes back decades. This administration has pledged to fight poverty and has been a generous contributor to development aid, raising its allocation steadily over the last five years. But it is way behind many countries like Britain, France and Germany, as well as the Nordic region, in terms of the proportion of their wealth they allocate to development assistance.

The United Nations does not have and has never had a plan for imposing a travel tax or a levy on currency transactions. On regulating the use of the Internet, an agreement was made by U.N. member states, including the United States, to ask a group of independent experts, drawn from governments and the private sector, for their collective views on where the World Wide Web should be going. Their report will have to be decided on by countries, including the United States. It certainly does not amount to a plan for Secretary-General Kofi Annan to control the Internet.

Multilateral cooperation is providing the most effective means of reining in terrorism, organizing elections and spreading democracy, bringing together nations to help keep peace and deliver humanitarian assistance and thereby promoting stability around the world. Fears that “internationalists” are contributing to the erosion of U.S. sovereignty are unfounded — 60 years have proven that countries still act in their national self-interest but accept that there are tangible benefits to coordinating their actions to address global concerns. In an interdependent world, unilateralism is no longer an option.



Department of Public Information

United Nations

New York

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