Justice Department may ban racial profiling based on religion, nationality, gender: Reports


US Attorney General Eric Holder gives a speach at Northwestern Law School on March 5, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.


John Gress

The US Justice Department appears poised to forbid federal agents from profiling criminal suspects based on religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation, according to several reports.

Currently, the ban applies only to race.

More from GlobalPost: New York police chief pledges to reduce 'stop and frisk'

Expanding the policy would mark a major policy shift for US law enforcement and address a decade of concerns from Muslims, Latinos and other minorities in America who feel they are singled out for unwarranted scrutiny.

The New York Times first reported the possible move, quoting an official on condition of anonymity who had been briefed on a meeting between Attorney General Eric Holder and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

It was later confirmed by Reuters and NBC News.

Racial profiling was banned by the Bush administration in 2003.

More from GlobalPost: Boycott threatened after racial profiling claims at Macy's, Barney's

But the law did not apply to a person's religion or national origin, and excluded matters of "national security."

“Putting an end to this practice not only comports with the Constitution, it would put real teeth to the FBI’s claims that it wants better relationships with religious minorities,” Hina Shamsi, a national security lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Times.

It's not known when the changes would be enacted. Or whether the national security loophole would be closed.

The Justice Department has been reviewing the rules for several years.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy