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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 10, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 02
Jayapal leads five colleagues in pressing the Trump administration on reports of Iranian Americans being held at border
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Jayapal leads five colleagues in pressing the Trump administration on reports of Iranian Americans being held at border

WASHINGTON, DC (January 7, 2020) - US Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), vice chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today led five colleagues in writing to the Trump administration to demand more information on reports that as many as 200 Iranian Americans were targeted for secondary screening and held for up to 12 hours at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington, over the weekend of January 4, 2020.

In their letter to acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf, acting US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan, and Blaine Sector Port Director Kenneth L. Williams, Jayapal and her colleagues requested the 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.

In addition to Jayapal, today's 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).

"We write to express our alarm about US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly holding large numbers of people of Iranian heritage in secondary inspection for up to 12 hours over the weekend of January 4-5, 2020, at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington," wrote the lawmakers.

In their letter, Jayapal and her colleagues also questioned CBP's public explanations that attributed long waits to high traffic during late hours and lower staffing levels, writing that these statements "do not explain why impacted persons were overwhelmingly of Iranian heritage, nor why pre-cleared US citizen travelers would have been placed in secondary inspection and delayed for five hours," or "why individuals appear to have been detained throughout the day on January 4, beginning as early as 8:00 a.m."

Yesterday, Jayapal held a press conference where she called into question CBP's response, stood in solidarity with Negah Hekmati, one of the people impacted at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington, as she shared her story.

The full text of the letter is [at http://jayapal.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/CBP_Iran_Letter_01072019.pdf].

Courtesy of Rep. Pramila Jayapal

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