Gov. Inslee condemns alleged detention of Iranian-Americans at US-Canada border
BLAINE, Wash. – Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement on Monday to condemn the alleged detention of Iranian Americans at the US-Canada border in Washington state.
The Washington chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claimed Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington. According to CAIR, the people who were detained said their passports were confiscated and they were questioned at length about their political views.
The organization said that CBP refused some Iranian-Americans were refused entry for a lack of capacity to detain them, according to a news release on Sunday.
The detainees were reportedly returning across the border from an Iranian pop concert in Vancouver, Canada.
Customs and Border Protection disputed the allegations, saying that they ordered no such directive to detain or refuse entry to Iranians and Iranian-Americans.
Here is the full statement from Gov. Inslee:
The reports out of the border crossing at Blaine are deeply alarming. Washingtonians who happen to be Iranian-American were detained at the Canadian-U.S. border for extended periods of time for no other reason than their ethnicity or country of origin.
This is wrong and rife with constitutional and moral problems. No one should be treated differently due to where they come from, how they look or what language they speak.
What Americans endured over the weekend in Blaine is unacceptable. This will not stand in Washington state, and we will continue to push for answers to ensure that it does not happen again. We’ve learned time and again that we cannot trust the Trump administration.
Customs and Border Protection denials of these reports are simply not credible. There are multiple firsthand accounts of CBP agents seizing people’s passports while they waited for up to 12 hours for re-entry into the United States. By all accounts, this is detention, regardless of whether the waiting area has bars on the windows. And it is in line with this administration’s never-ending vilification of our immigrant populations.
We can never forget that Japanese-Americans were detained in Washington state during World War II and their constitutional and civic rights were removed out of fear and hatred. This cannot become a new era of intimidation and division.
Let’s be clear: this overreach is the direct result of President Trump’s recklessness. Following his indefensible decision to abandon diplomacy and dismantle the nuclear deal, Iran has restarted its previously abandoned nuclear program, and violence threatening Americans has increased. Rather than making us more safe, his unilateral actions increase the risk to Washingtonians at home and abroad.
I will continue to stand up for the rights and protections of all Washingtonians.