[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today issued the following statement on a news report of a guidance document issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Seattle Field Office that directs CBP officers to target Iranian Americans for secondary screening at the U.S.-Canada border:
“This document, if verified as coming from the Seattle CBP Field Office, matches exactly the process described by CBP leadership in a briefing last week, our own sources inside CBP, and the credible and powerful accounts from travelers who faced extreme profiling at the U.S.-Canada border. We are currently working to verify this document, and I have requested an immediate meeting with the CBP Seattle Field Office Director. CBP must also immediately furnish all documents requested in the letter I led with colleagues from the Judiciary, Oversight, and Homeland Security committees,” said Jayapal. “It is becoming increasingly clear from multiple conversations with travelers and CBP staff that there was, indeed, a directive from the Seattle Field Office to target Iranian Americans for secondary screening based on their country of origin and despite the fact that they were largely American citizens, legal permanent residents and legal visa holders. This is absolutely unacceptable, and it reminds us of the dark times in our country’s history. We cannot implement loyalty tests or discriminate against individuals in the name of national security.”
Following reports that as many as 200 Iranian Americans were targeted for secondary screening and held for up to nine hours at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington over the weekend of January 4, 2020, Jayapal led five colleagues in writing to Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan, and Blaine Sector Port Director Kenneth L. Williams to request the Trump 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.
The Administration failed to meet its deadline for document production, but did host a telephone-briefing for legislative staff on Thursday, January 23. Based on the information shared during that briefing, it is clear that the CBP Seattle Field Office issued guidance targeting people of Iranian heritage. The Seattle Field office covers the U.S.-Canada border from Washington State all the way to Minnesota.
In addition to Jayapal, the letter was signed by: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security Chairwoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY).
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