Washington, DC - This past weekend, reports of increased screening of Iranian Americans returning to the United States from Canada arose late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Although individuals were not officially detained or taken into custody according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), it is clear that many U.S. citizens of Iranian descent were subjected to additional screening that non-Iranian citizens were not.
JACL denounces this expansion of screening and further questioning based solely on Iranian heritage. Our country should have learned its lesson when it targeted Japanese Americans because of our ancestry. We must not repeat the mistake of casting suspicion on American citizens simply because of their family’s country of origin. Racist discrimination should not be institutionalized under the guise of national security interests.
CBP seems to be seeking cover by claiming to have not detained or ordered for the detention of any individual, but has made no comment in regards to the extended questioning and screening procedures. We call upon CBP to immediately halt any discriminatory policies singling out travelers solely for their Iranian heritage. If CBP did not issue orders for additional screening, it must conduct an immediate investigation as to why additional screenings were required for Iranian Americans crossing the border.