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January 07, 2020

House Leaders Press Trump Administration On Reports of Iranian Americans Being Held at Border

(WASHINGTON) - Today, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), House Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations Chairwoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY), wrote to the Trump Administration to demand more information on reports that as many as 200 Iranian Americans were targeted for secondary screening and held for up to 12 hours at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington over the weekend of January 4, 2020.

In their letter to Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf, Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan, and Blaine Sector Port Director Kenneth L. Williams, they requested the Administration produce any “directives, orders, guidance, instructions, musters, whether verbal or in writing, or other documents and communications” issued to CBP officers, port directors, or Blaine Sector employees “regarding the screening of individuals of Iranian heritage,” or “any other changes in screening procedures in response to the death of Qasem Soleimani” by January 21, 2020.

“We write to express our alarm about U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly holding large numbers of people of Iranian heritage in secondary inspection for up to 12 hours over the weekend of January 4-5, 2020, at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington,” wrote the lawmakers.

In their letter, they also questioned CBP’s public explanations that attributed long waits to high traffic during late hours and lower staffing levels, writing that these statements “do not explain why impacted persons were overwhelmingly of Iranian heritage, nor why pre-cleared U.S. citizen travelers would have been placed in secondary inspection and delayed for five hours,” or “why individuals appear to have been detained throughout the day on January 4, beginning as early as 8:00 am.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

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Press Contact

Subhan Cheema (Jayapal), 202-225-3106
Daniel Schwarz, (Judiciary), 202-225-5635
Aryele Bradford (Oversight and Reform), 202-226-5181
Adam Comis (Homeland Security), 202-225-9978
Ally Kehoe (Lofgren), 202-924-2708
Stuart Malec (Rice), 202-845-3252