NIAC Statement on Discriminatory Order Issued to Customs and Border Patrol

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 30, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), issued the following statement on the publication of what appears to be the discriminatory order issued by the Seattle Field Office to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officers which resulted in the outrageous and discriminatory detention of individuals of Iranian heritage:

“It was apparent on January 5th that CBP was lying when it said there was no directive ordering the detention and secondary screening of individuals based on their Iranian heritage. Now, the public can see first-hand what appears to be an order mandating discrimination against the Iranian-American community and others of Middle Eastern heritage, which was carried out by officers at the border and led in many cases to hours-long detentions of individuals solely on the basis of their national heritage and perceived religious affiliation.

“This discriminatory treatment must be fully halted, though the Iranian-American community has received no such credible assurances. We also call on the officers who issued this discriminatory order to be fired and for CBP to issue a formal apology for its discrimination and public deception.

“It is hard to overstate the psychological damage that this administration’s institutional discrimination has wrought against the Iranian-American community. It began with the Muslim ban over three years ago, and now has been allowed to expand to the targeting of U.S. citizens including many who have never even set foot in Iran or haven’t done so in decades. Such discrimination is un-American and illegal. We have heard directly from U.S. citizens afraid to travel outside the United States, and others seeking to expunge their place of birth from their passport, for fear that they will be subjected to similar outrageous discrimination as occurred at the Blaine port of entry and airports across the country.

“We appreciate that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has started a formal investigation into these abuses, based on our formal complaint on January 5th. That investigation must be thorough, timely and fully account for the scale of this discriminatory treatment and ensure it is fully halted.”

NIAC Statement on DHS Investigation into Detentions of Iranian Americans at U.S. Ports of Entry

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

Washington DC – In response to reports that some 60 Iranian Americans were held for lengthy questioning by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at U.S. ports of entry, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) requested that the Department of Homeland Security open an investigation into the detentions and questioning.

NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement elaborating on the request:

“On Sunday, January 5, the National Iranian American Council requested that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties open an investigation into the detainment and questioning of Iranian Americans at the U.S. ports of entry. We are pleased that the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has opened an investigation into CBP’s potential discriminatory targeting of Iranian Americans at the border following our formal complaint. We will be working to ensure that the investigation is thorough, timely and results in the halt of this discriminatory treatment targeting our community. Detaining individuals on the basis of their national origin is illegal, and the Iranian-American community will not stand for such outrageous and discriminatory treatment. 

“Unfortunately, we continue to see discriminatory targeting of the Iranian-American community from this administration, which began on week one when it instituted a Muslim ban and spread fear and chaos across the country. Three years later, we are still battling to safeguard our community’s rights and won’t stop until everybody in our community and country is safe from discrimination on the basis of their national heritage.

“We will continue to work closely with other allied community organizations, many of whom helped in flagging these abuses. Moreover, we greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. Pramila Jayapal who has been at the forefront of halting these discriminatory practices and bringing the truth to light.”