Press Releases

DelBene Sends Letter to DHS Demanding Answers on Iranian-Americans Being Detained at Border

DelBene Letter Signed by Washington Senators Murray and Cantwell and 70 Members of Congress

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Washington, D.C., January 8, 2020 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-1) led a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “to obtain more information regarding the holding of Iranian Americans in secondary inspection upon entering the United States in Blaine, Washington” over the weekend. The letter is co-led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), and Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). The letter is signed by 70 Members of the House.

“There have been reports that more than 60 Americans of Iranian descent were held in secondary inspection at length and questioned at the Peace Arch Border Crossing – with up to 200 individuals having been reportedly affected. Some individuals claim to have been held in secondary inspection over 10 hours, and others report they were turned away due to a lack of space. Those held in secondary inspection include U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and people of all ages including the elderly and children. It has been reported that their passports were confiscated, and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances without explanation,” the letter stated.

It continues, “In conversations with individuals who were held in secondary inspection and community groups representing impacted individuals, it has become clear that this additional screening, holding, and questioning was solely reserved for Iranian Americans.”

The letter asks to DHS to explain why Americans of Iranian descent were held for secondary screenings and in some cases held up to 12 hours before they could go. It also asks DHS to provide an answer to whether a directive was issued to detain people of Iranian descent at the border.

The full letter can be read here.
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