Press Releases

DelBene, Jayapal Demand Public Apology, Report from CBP on January 2020 Iranian-American Detention Incident

Today, Congresswomen Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) demanded a formal apology from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the January 2020 detention and increased scrutiny of Iranian-Americans at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine in DelBene’s district. In a letter to Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, the lawmakers also requested the publication of an internal report detailing the incident and public renunciation of the agency’s actions. 

On January 5, 2020, more than 80 Americans of Iranian descent were held in secondary inspection at length and questioned. Some individuals claimed to have been held for over 10 hours. Those held in secondary inspection included U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and people of all ages including the elderly and children. Individuals had their passports confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances without explanation.

“Men, women and children legally entering or returning to the United States at a designated port of entry should not be arbitrarily held and questioned solely based on their religion, ethnicity, or national origin,” the lawmakers wrote. “In conjunction with the Iranian community, we eagerly await the development and release of a corrective action plan to assure that these events do not recur.”

DelBene and Jayapal listed three specific demands to be met before the second anniversary of this incident:

  • A formal apology from CBP regarding the tweet posted on January 5, 2020, which denied that the Iranian-Americans were being subject to increased scrutiny at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, WA.
  • The prompt publication of the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’ report describing what happened at the Peace Arch Border Crossing between January 4-5, 2020.
  • A press conference for CBP to publicly renounce their actions and commit to changes moving forward.

The letter can be found here