Statement on Deportation of Shahab Dehghani

Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), issued the following statement on the deportation of Mr. Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, an Iranian national who was partway through a degree at Northeastern University:

“It is a disgrace that nearly three years through President Trump’s implementation of a Muslim ban, Iranians are still being deported at airports despite holding a valid visa. This is supposed to be a nation of checks and balances, but instead we have an administration running roughshod over the courts and Congress with no transparency or accountability.

“Shahab’s deportation — in spite of a court order —and the Boston court’s refusal to order his return, are disconcerting. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seems intent on targeting anyone with Iranian heritage and has provided little reassurance to suggest otherwise. Without the courts or Congress protecting the rule of law, communities like ours are looking down a dark hole, where our rights may be infringed without explanation or due process and our family and friends subject to harassment and deportation.

“Mr. Abadi’s deportation is one of a series of visa revocations of valid Iranian visa holders, all of whom went through an arduous visa vetting process only to be cruelly denied upon entry – after quitting jobs, buying expensive plane tickets and saying goodbye to friends and family. In late August of 2019, dozens of Iranian students experienced the same fate as Mr. Abadi and have since been banned from returning to the U.S. for 5 years, putting their lives on hold. CBP has yet to say a word as to why any of these students have been rejected, though we strongly suspect the administration’s vague social media vetting policy is to blame. 

“This level of outrageous behavior and discrimination is unfortunately become commonplace under the current administration. Congress should immediately pass legislation to rescind the Muslim Ban, including “The No Ban Act”, H.R.2214. Lawmakers, the media, the courts and civil society must double efforts to enforce accountability and demand answers or the situation will only get worse.”

 

NIAC Letter Regarding Etsy’s U.S. Sanctions Compliance Policies and Discriminatory Treatment Towards Iranian Americans

Photo Credit: yasmeenabedi / Twitter

The National Iranian American Council has sent a letter to Etsy concerning its apparently discriminatory treatment of an American vendor selling “Persian dolls” on its website. These dolls appear to have been made in America with American materials by an American, and under no circumstances should have been flagged as a prohibited item. No sanctions apply to American-made items celebrating Persian cultural heritage or antiquity. Etsy’s knee-jerk or automated reaction that led to the prohibition of the dolls is deeply concerning and smacks of discrimination.

At this time, many Iranian Americans are concerned that rising geopolitical tensions are triggering a new wave of xenophobia against our community. NIAC urges Etsy to publicly detail the reasoning behind this discriminatory treatment, take action to verify that it will not continue it and issue an apology to the vendor. NIAC also stand ready to discuss with Etsy the sanctions on Iran and how the company can avoid similar discriminatory action in the future.

The text of the letter is below:

January 18, 2020

SENT VIA MAIL

Etsy Legal Compliance Office
55 Washington Street, Suite 512
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Re: Letter Regarding Etsy’s U.S. Sanctions Compliance Policies and Discriminatory Treatment Towards Iranian Americans

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing on behalf of the National Iranian American Council (“NIAC”), the largest grassroots organization in the United States representing the interests of Iranian Americans, regarding Etsy’s decision to remove from its online store products made by U.S. persons in the United States solely due to the inclusion of the word “Persian” in the title of the product. While we understand that–as a U.S. company–Etsy must comply with all U.S. sanctions laws, Etsy must not implement these commitments in such a manner as to discriminate against users of Iranian descent or to render prohibitive all cultural items of or relating to Iran. We are deeply troubled by this incident and are concerned that–based on Etsy’s apparent sanctions compliance policies and procedures–other users of Iranian descent are likely to face similar discriminatory treatment from Etsy in the future. 

Recently, it has come to our attention that Etsy removed handmade dolls for sale on its online store because the items were described as “Persian dolls.” According to Etsy’s notice, Etsy removed the product because “Persian dolls” constituted a “prohibited item” under the company’s policies. This product, as NIAC understands it, was made by a user of Iranian descent in the United States using solely goods sourced from the United States. No U.S. sanctions laws or regulations appear to have been triggered by Etsy’s hosting of this item for sale on its online store. Etsy’s apparent compliance program has prohibited items from its online store that would raise no compliance issues under U.S. sanctions laws.

U.S. companies must narrowly tailor their U.S. sanctions compliance policies and procedures to the requirements of U.S. laws to ensure that these policies and procedures do not discriminate against and further burden affected communities, including the Iranian-American community. Identifying “Persian dolls” as a “prohibited item” pursuant to its internal sanctions policies and procedures does not qualify as a sanctions program narrowly tailored to the requirements of U.S. law. Such sanctions over-compliance has understandably caused much frustration and anger in our community, and actions such as Etsy’s raise persistent fears that the Iranian American community is the subject of discriminatory treatment. 

We trust that Etsy will review this matter and seek to mitigate the harm caused to any affected parties. We would like to speak further with representatives of the company regarding how they can engage in remediation to revise their sanctions program to ensure that it is strictly tailored to the requirements of U.S law and does not cause any undue impacts on Iranian Americans or other affected communities moving forward. We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response. 

Sincerely,

Jamal Abdi
President, National Iranian American Council

Letter of Solidarity Standing with NIAC

[Sign the open letter here]

January 17, 2020

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and its sister organization NIAC Action, are American civil-society organizations working on behalf of members of the Iranian-American community and the broader American public. At a time when our nation is bitterly divided, NIAC is an important voice in our public debate on issues of enormous consequence for all Americans — and particularly for Americans of Iranian heritage — including heightened tensions in the Middle East and the risk of war, policies like the Muslim travel ban and extreme vetting, the rise in domestic hate crimes, and the protection of civil liberties.

We are deeply disturbed by the letter from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Mike Braun insinuating that this Iranian-American organization has dual loyalties, is somehow less American than other organizations in this space, and should be subject to a Justice Department investigation. While these Senators may have profound differences in opinion with NIAC, particularly on the question of escalation and potential war with Iran, the Justice Department is not the forum to resolve those debates. These tactics have no place in our political process or our national discourse, and risk turning our Justice Department into a political tool to intimidate and silence voices that disagree with whichever administration is in power. We are concerned that everyone involved in contentious policy debates, regardless of political persuasion, will be at risk.

We are proud to stand with NIAC and commend its essential contribution to the public debate.

Signed,

Organizations
About Face: Veterans Against the War
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
American Friends Service Committee
Beyond the Bomb
CAIR-Texas DFW
Center for Constitutional Rights
CODEPINK
Daily Kos
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress Education Fund
Foreign Policy for America
Freedom Forward
Global Zero
Granada Center for Human Rights
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Immigration Hub
Indivisible 
Institute for Policy Studies
Irish International Immigrant Center
Japanese American Citizens League
Jewish Voice for Peace
Justice for Muslims Collective
JVP Action
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Montgomery County (MD) Civil Rights Coalition
MoveOn
MPower Change
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)
Muslim Voters of America
National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
Oil Change International
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Peace Action
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Ploughshares Fund
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Static Free Films, Inc.
The Avalan Institute for Applied Research
United We Dream
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
VoteVets
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions

Individuals – Organizations Included for Identification Purposes Only 
Gordon Adams, Professor Emeritus, School of International Service, American University
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR Georgia
Salam Almarayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Reza Aslan, Renowned Author and Professor
Andrew Bacevich, President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Dante Barry, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
David Barsamian
Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Bourse & Bazaar
Zahra Billoo, CAIR San Francisco Bay Area
Audrey Bomse, National Lawyers Guild
Salih Booker, Center for International Policy
Heather Booth
Yvette Borja, ACLU Arizona
Charles E. Butterworth, University of Maryland, Emeritus Professor
Abdul Cader Asmal
Manzoor Cheema, Project South
Juan Cole, University of Michigan
Holly Dagres
Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association
Hassan El-Tayyab, Friends Committee on National Legislation
David Emami, City Councilor, Happy Valley Oregon
Rahna Epting, Executive Director, MoveOn
Hadi Esfahani, Professor, University of Illinois
Prof. John L. Esposito, Georgetown University
Richard Falk, Princeton University
Farideh Farhi, Independent Scholar
Mateo Farzaneh, Northeastern Illinois University 
Jon Finer, Former Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning at the State Department
Dr. Eugene Fisher
Lara Friedman
Mark Gasiorowski, Tulane University
Prof. Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Princeton University
Jeanette Gottlieb, Peace Corps Iran Association
Cyrus Habib, Lieutenant Governor of Washington State
Morton H. Halperin, Open Society Foundations
Amir Handjani, Truman National Security Project
William Hartung, Center for International Policy
Nader Hashemi, University of Denver
Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-MN
Deepa Iyer, Solidarity Is
Mitra Jalali, St. Paul City Council
Maryam Jamshidi, University of Florida, Levin College of Law
Robert Jervis, Columbia University
Persis Karim
Hoda Katebi
Tara Kaveh, Alliance San Diego
Bijan Khajehpour
Dr. Fazal Khan, University of Arizona
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association*
Ahmad Kiarostami
Stephen Kinzer, Author, “All the Shah’s Men”
Paige Knappenberger, Climate Nexus
Lawrence Korb, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense
Daniel Larison, The American Conservative
George A. Lopez, Kroc Institute, Notre Dame
Firuzeh Mahmoudi, United for Iran
Robert Malley, Former Special Assistant to the President
Sarah Margon, Open Society Foundations
Edward Martin, Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University
John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago
Nicholas Miller, Dartmouth College
Ramin Montazeri
Melody Moezzi, Author, Attorney, Activist, & Professor
Bitta Mostofi, Public Servant & Advocate
Asieh Namdar, Journalist
Bruce D. Nestor, Former President of the National Lawyers Guild
Paul R. Pillar, Quincy Institute and Georgetown University
Mitchell Plitnick, ReThinking Foreign Policy 
Gobi Rahimi, Filmmaker 
Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine
Ben Rhodes, Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama
Mahsa Rouhi, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS)
Muhammad Sahimi, NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, USC
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Virginia Tech
Monique Salhab, Veterans For Peace
Susan Scott, National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South
Samer Shehata, University of Oklahoma
Annelle Sheline, The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Debra Shushan, J Street
Nahid Siamdoust, Yale University
Arjun Singh Sethi, Georgetown University Law Center
Barbara Slavin
Nader Soltani
Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together
Yasmine Taeb, Democratic National Committeewoman
John Tierney, Council for A Livable World
Jim Walsh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stephen Walt, Harvard University
Stephen Wertheim, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State
Dylan Williams, J Street
Carolyn Yale, Member of Peace Corps Iran Association
Stephen Young, Union of Concerned Scientists
Nahal Zamani, Center for Constitutional Rights

 

 

NIAC Receives Outpouring of Support After Outrageous “Dual Loyalty” Attack Leveled By Pro-War Senators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 17, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – Over 100 organizations, experts and former officials rallied to the defense of the National Iranian American Council and its sister organization, NIAC Action, after three extreme partisan Senate war hawks questioned the organization’s allegiances. NIAC is an American organization that for nearly two decades has been a leading voice in the effort to prevent war with Iran and to protect civil liberties of Iranian Americans. Most recently, NIAC has been at the forefront of efforts to get answers after over sixty Iranian Americans, including young children, were held at the U.S.-Canada border overnight for up to 11 hours and questioned about political beliefs amid heightened risks of war with Iran. 

On Wednesday, amid these dangerous tensions and rising fears among Iranian Americans about threats to their civil liberties here at home, Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Mike Braun sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging for an investigation of NIAC for potentially acting as “foreign agents.” Organizations including Ploughshares Fund, VoteVets, Win Without War, and prominent experts and former officials like Iranian-American author Reza Aslan, former special assistant to President Obama Robert Malley, and Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell signed onto a joint letter condemning this baseless attack. NIAC’s initial statement regarding the Cotton, Cruz, Braun letter, is available here.

The full joint solidarity statement is below and can also be found here.

January 17, 2020

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and its sister organization NIAC Action, are American civil-society organizations working on behalf of members of the Iranian-American community and the broader American public. At a time when our nation is bitterly divided, NIAC is an important voice in our public debate on issues of enormous consequence for all Americans — and particularly for Americans of Iranian heritage — including heightened tensions in the Middle East and the risk of war, policies like the Muslim travel ban and extreme vetting, the rise in domestic hate crimes, and the protection of civil liberties.
 
That is why we are deeply disturbed by the letter from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Mike Braun insinuating that this Iranian-American organization has dual loyalties, is somehow less American than other organizations in this space, and should be subject to a Justice Department investigation. While these Senators may have profound differences in opinion with NIAC, particularly on the question of escalation and potential war with Iran, the Justice Department is not the forum to resolve those debates. Such McCarthyite tactics have no place in our political process or our national discourse, and risk turning our Justice Department into a political tool to intimidate and silence voices that disagree with whichever administration is in power. The fact that three United States Senators would engage in such meritless, slanderous, and dangerous practices is deeply disturbing. We are concerned that this will not stop with their attack on NIAC and that everyone involved in contentious policy debates, regardless of political persuasion, will be at risk if such tactics succeed. We strongly urge that the three Senators retract their letter and apologize.
 
We are proud to stand with NIAC and fundamentally reject the letter from Senators Cotton, Cruz and Braun that represents an attack on our democracy.
 
Sincerely,
 
Lawrence B. Wilkerson
Former chief of staff to Secretary of State
 
Dylan Williams​​​​​​​
J Street
 
Stephen Walt​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Harvard University
 
Paul R. Pillar​​​​​​​
Quincy Institute and Georgetown University
 
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani​​​​​​​
Virginia Tech
 
Juan Cole​​​​​​​
University of Michigan
 
Nader Hashemi​​​​​​​
University of Denver
 
John Tierney​​​​​​​
Council for A Livable World
 
John J. Mearsheimer​​​​​​​
University of Chicago
 
Lawrence Korb​​​​​​​
Former Assistant Secretary of Defence
 
Andrew Bacevich​​​​​​​
President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
 
Jon Finer​​​​​​​
Former Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning at the State Department
 
Morton H. Halperin​​​​​​​
Open Society Foundations

See the full list of signatories here.

NIAC Responds to Baseless Accusations by Senators Cotton, Cruz, and Braun

In response to a letter sent by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Braun (R-IN) to the Department of Justice baselessly urging an investigation into NIAC and NIAC Action, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“At NIAC, we are proud of the work we do for our community. We will never stop working to advance peace and diplomacy or fighting for equitable immigration policies and the civil rights of all Americans. Unfortunately, in the current political climate, immigrant organizations and communities like ours are increasingly under attack by agenda-driven groups and individuals who often resort to baseless smears to try to discredit those who disagree with them.

“The slanderous accusations from Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Mike Braun have zero merit. It is yet another sign that warhawks are seeking to intimidate pro-peace voices, starting with Iranian Americans, from halting the push toward war, which Cotton and Cruz have long championed. We have already seen the coordinated efforts, such as the U.S. government funded “IranDisinfo” project that slandered groups like Human Rights Watch, as well as Iranian-American journalists, analysts, academics, and civil society organizations like ours who dared speak out against the Trump Administration’s Iran policies. This is the latest attempt to silence NIAC and other pro-peace Iranian Americans from having a voice in this debate that impacts us and our community. We will not let that happen.

“NIAC and NIAC Action are independent American organizations. We do not receive money from any government, are not agents of any government, and take great pride in our transparency. We are funded by reputable U.S. foundations, ordinary Iranian Americans, and American allies who support peace and civil rights. We routinely condemn the Iranian government for its gross violations of its international human rights obligations, including amid the November crackdown and this past weekend over protests following the government’s downing of a civilian aircraft.

“The Senators’ accusations of dual loyalty targeting our organization, particularly amid heightened risks of war, are disgusting and dangerous. We are just a few days removed from Iranian Americans being detained for questioning at U.S. ports of entry based on their national heritage. These incidents have only compounded an atmosphere of xenophobia, which have made Americans of all backgrounds feel vulnerable in their own country, and have no place within the civil discourse of the United States. In this period of heightened fears and trauma, it is shameful these Senators choose to slander NIAC and NIAC Action as we stand up for the Iranian-American community and work to protect our community’s civil liberties.

“We strongly dispute the mischaracterization of our work by the Senators in their hastily drafted letter. Both Senators Cotton and Cruz have made clear that they favor war with Iran over diplomatic solutions–and they have done nothing to halt this administration from banning our friends and family from Iran beginning in his first week in office. While we know little of Senator Braun, his joining in this McCarthyite targeting of an Iranian-American civil rights organization betrays that he knows little of our community and less about basic democratic liberties.

“It is unfortunate and telling that these warmongers have put NIAC in their crosshairs. Our organization has for years led the charge against war, reflecting the anti-war position of the vast majority of the Iranian-American community. Sens. Cotton, Cruz, and Braun recognize us as a threat to their plans and seek to slander us into silence. They will not succeed. Freedom, equality, and democracy are not just hopeful words, they are the foundations of a just world that we will continue to advocate for, starting here at home in the United States.” 

NIAC Statement on European Powers Triggering JCPOA Dispute Resolution Mechanism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 14, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

In response to European powers triggering a dispute resolution mechanism over Iran halting compliance with nuclear limits following President Trump’s violation and withdrawal from the deal, Ryan Costello, Policy Director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), issued the following statement:

“Europe’s complete fecklessness in the face of Donald Trump’s pressure is once again on full display. Unlike the Trump administration that has orchestrated this nuclear crisis, Europe wants to keep the Iran deal alive and has exerted diplomatic energy toward that end, with little to show for it. However, this step is likely to be viewed in Iran and much of the rest of the world as a cave to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure after Europe has continually failed to deliver promised sanctions relief to Iran. This will further reduce Iranian appetite for accommodation with the West and adherence to the Nonproliferation Treaty. Moreover, hawks in the U.S. are likely to seize the dispute resolution mechanism to try to collapse the agreement on faulty legal grounds, even if that is not the intent of European powers.

“All powers need to tread cautiously, lest they risk playing into those intent on collapsing the agreement and all diplomatic pathways with Iran. Keeping the deal alive, and with it a diplomatic opening to resolve broader concerns with Iran, is in the national interest of the United States, Europe and Iran. This shouldn’t change as a result of Europe’s triggering of the dispute resolution mechanism, which risks doing more harm than good. The alternative scenario of a collapsed deal will rapidly escalate already high tensions and make a conflict increasingly inevitable. Europe will pay a high price for any increase in instability in the Middle East and renewed refugee flows.”

NIAC Statement on Repression of Iranian Protests

WASHINGTON DC – In response to reports that Iranian protests, after shooting down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger plane last week, are being repressed by authorities, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“The National Iranian American Council condemns the Iranian government’s continued use of force against protesters over the weekend, and urges it to take immediate action to uphold its international human rights obligations.

“Many Iranians are rightfully incensed that their government shot down a civilian airliner and killed 176 innocent people, which was compounded by three days of lies to try to cover up the armed forces’ culpability in the shoot down.

“The Iranian people, like everyone, have the right to protest their government without fear of being targeted with lethal force. We reiterate our condemnations of the Iranian government’s ongoing human rights abuses and urge security forces to halt all abuses against protesters and prisoners of conscience.”

NIAC Statement on Iran’s Accidental Downing of Passenger Plane

WASHINGTON DC – In response to reports that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had acknowledged that it was responsible for accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger plane this week, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“Our hearts are with the families and friends still grieving over their lost loved ones. This has been a tremendous loss for Iran, the Iranian diaspora and all who lost loved ones on the flight.

“Today we learned this was an entirely avoidable and irresponsible error, which has already prompted large protests in Iran. It was also brought on by avoidable tensions between the U.S. and Iran that threatened to spill over into full-blown war. It underscores that when tensions rise, it is unfortunately all too common for mistakes to be made that lead to disastrous consequences. We urge the U.S. and Iranian governments to continue to deescalate, open up diplomatic channels and ensure there is no further loss of life from the reckless rush to the brink of war.”

NIAC Statement on House Passage of Resolution to Halt Iran War

Ryan Costello, Policy Director for the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement on the passage of the resolution (H.Con.Res. 83) from Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) clarifying that President Trump does not have authorization for war with Iran:

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Slotkin, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Eliot Engel and all Representatives who voted for the resolution today deserve tremendous credit for taking quick and decisive action to clarify Trump does not have authority to ratchet up to a full-blown war with Iran. 

“The Trump administration has lied about its assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani from the start, painting a picture of an imminent threat without evidence. Sadly, many – but not all – of Trump’s Republican allies blindly accepted the administration’s propaganda and engaged in a divisive campaign to distort the truth. The strike on Soleimani was a deliberate provocation ordered from Mar-a-Lago while Congress was kept in the dark. The vote today helps wrestle back war authorities from a reckless executive that has proven it cannot be trusted on Iran policy or any national security file.

“The fight will now turn to the Senate, where Sen. Tim Kaine is pushing his war powers resolution and gaining support by the day. The House of Representatives, however, should not rest given the profound stakes. We urge the House to pass Rep. Khanna’s No War Against Iran Act (H.R. 5543), which would bar funding for unauthorized war with Iran and clarify that Congress has not passed a war authorization. It passed the House in a strong bipartisan vote via amendment over the summer. Moreover, we encourage the House to pass Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill (H.R. 2456) to end the 2002 war authorization against Saddam Hussein’s defunct regime that the administration has bizarrely cited as an authorization for its strike on an Iranian general.

“President Trump must halt his administration’s lies, open diplomatic channels with Iran and seek to return to the nuclear deal. Failure to do so risks a war that would devastate the region and put the American people further away from peace.”

 

NIAC Statement on Ukraine Airliner Crash in Iran

Washington DC – In response to reports that Ukrainian Flight P752 may have been shot down, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

Our hearts are with the families and friends of the many victims of the crash in Iran, Canada, Ukraine and Europe. It is hard to imagine the pain that they are going through.

“They deserve answers as soon as possible, and we urge all observers to avoid exploiting this tragedy for political purposes before the facts are established. We encourage the Iranian government to comply fully with an independent and impartial investigation.

“We also encourage the Trump administration to expedite the licensing for Boeing to participate in the investigation as requested by the the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran.”

NIAC Statement on Iranian Missile Attacks on U.S. Bases in Iraq

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 7, 2020 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – In response to reports that Iran had launched missiles targeting U.S. military bases in Iraq, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“NIAC is deeply concerned by reports of Iranian missile attacks against U.S. military bases inside Iraq. We condemn all military escalations by both the Iranian and U.S. governments that have led us to this tragic and avoidable point. It is not too late to pull back from a full-blown war. However, that window is closing rapidly. Congress must act immediately to halt hostilities and prevent Trump’s threats of massive retaliation, including bombing of Iranian cultural sites.

“Donald Trump owns this 100%. He inherited a working nuclear deal and a tense but stable situation with Iran. He has deeply wounded the first major diplomatic initiative between the U.S. and Iranian government in decades, and listened to ideologues who convinced him to assassinate an Iranian general. At every step of the way, he has been warned he risked moving back on the path to war. Now that day may be here.

“Our thoughts are with all the people who will be harmed by this senseless and needless conflict. It is ordinary Iranians, Iraqis, and people across the region who will bear a profound cost that can’t be justified. So too will American soldiers, and their families here at home, who will bear the consequences of yet another war that was thrust upon them by callous leaders.

“We call on the international community and the United Nations to do everything in its power to find a diplomatic resolution to these hostilities before the entire region erupts in war.

“We also remain deeply concerned about the Trump administration’s detainment of Iranian Americans at the border on the basis of national heritage and additional discriminatory actions against our community. We will remain vigilant amid the looming specter of war and safeguard our community’s rights.”

Statement of Coalition of Iranian-American Organizations on Border Detentions

Reports of Mass Detentions of Iranians and Iranian Americans at the Washington/Canada Border 

January 6, 2020

We write to share extremely disconcerting news, and to share important information with you regarding new immigration incidents affecting Iranian Americans and Iranians in the U.S.  Please read the below carefully and share this information with your friends and family. 

What We Know And Don’t Know 

Over the last 36 hours, there have been alarming reports of more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans being detained at length and questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Peace Arch Border in Washington State/Canadian border.  Many of the individuals detained were U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, including some of whom were returning after a short day trip from Seattle to Vancouver. Upon arrival, individuals were given an orange card, their passports were taken away and were directed to wait. After being detained for extended periods of time, some as many as 10 hours, the individuals were subjected to extensive questioning, during which they were asked invasive inquiries, such as their family and employment histories, and questions about the individuals’ and even their parents’ military service in Iran.  In cases where families arrived together, and one family member was of Iranian origin, the entire family was kept for questioning. Some families detained for extended periods were told that they had to undergo a background check, which needed to be cleared by Washington DC. Due to the large number of individuals arriving at the Peace Arch Border, and the long delays in processing, individuals were turned away and asked to return at a later time.

While our investigation has revealed the foregoing, there is still much we do not know. Across the country, we are hearing conflicting reports of Iranians and Iranian Americans being detained and questioned at other airports, while others are being admitted with minimal questioning.  As of now, it is unclear if there is a national directive from CBP to detain individuals with Iranian heritage. CBP has denied that there is a national directive, and CBP officers have indicated that, due to heightened security, they are conducting full background checks on individuals who are “suspicious or adversarial.”  However, given the reports received, including both geographically and of individuals being detained, further confirmation is required to determine if this is a localized or national directive.

Community Resources

As we continue to investigate and gather information, if you, your family, or your friends are traveling, and have been detained and questioned, please fill out our confidential intake form.

Know Your Rights

Despite the current political climate, Iranian Americans who are U.S. citizens, “green card holders” (also called “lawful permanent residents” or “LPRs”), and visa holders have rights at the border. Absent specific indicia of credible threats by specific individuals, your rights for being questioned and searched at the border have not changed. If you are traveling or have family and friends that are traveling, please review the Iranian-American Community Advisory- Know Your Rights at the Border and Airport available in English and Farsi. Please help us disseminate this information, as it may help your family, friends, and loved ones. 

We Are Here To Help

As a coalition of Iranian American organizations, we are committed to the community of Iranians and Iranian Americans in the U.S., and your families.  We will continue to investigate and monitor this troubling development, will provide you information and updates, and will continue to fight to protect your and your families’ rights and interests. Additionally, we will continue working with, and advocating before, our elected representatives and allies, not only to get to the bottom of what is happening, but to seek remedies to resolve it. Please stay tuned.   

For additional information, you may contact:

Iranian Alliances Across Borders, Mana Kharrazi (mana@iranianalliances.org
Iranian American Bar Association, Ramin Montazeri (ram7nyc@gmail.com
National Iranian American Council, Donna Faravard (dfarvard@niacouncil.org
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, Ali Rahnama (Ali.Rahnama@paaia.org)