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Feds to curtail profiling, barring investigations based on religion, ancestry

Federal agents could be barred from launching investigations based on religion, ancestry, sexual orientation or gender under expanded rules against profiling being considered by the Department of Justice, a government official said.

The rules, first reported in The New York Times on Wednesday and confirmed by NBC News, come after years of pressure from civil rights groups who said agents were allowed to target Latinos for immigration cases and American Muslims in terror investigations.

Racial profiling was banned by the Bush administration in 2003 but did not apply to a person’s religion or national origin, and excluded matters of national security.

The Times' report quoted an official on condition of anonymity who had been briefed on a meeting between Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The report said it was unclear whether Holder intended to extend the changes to matters of national security. But NBC News confirmed that the rules would apply to terrorism.

The DOJ did not confirm the rules, instead issuing a short statement saying the mayor and the attorney general talked about "preventing crime while protecting civil rights and civil liberties."