OCA Alarmed by Profiling of Iranian Americans
Washington, DC - OCA, Jan. 15, 2020 - Asian Pacific American Advocates strongly condemns the increased surveillance and reports of
interrogation of Iranian Americans at U.S. ports of entry. On January 5, the Council on American-Islamic Relations received reports that a
24-year old Iranian American medical student was allegedly detained and interrogated for over ten hours before being released.
According to reports, more than 60 Iranians and Iranian Americans were similarly detained and questioned at the Peace Arch Border
Crossing between Canada and Washington State. Many more were denied entry entirely due to lack of capacity for Customs and Border
Protection (CBP) to detain them.
Many of these travelers were returning home from an Iranian pop concert that took place Saturday night in Vancouver, Canada.
Ahead of the weekend, the agency received new, nationwide protocol to “report” and “detain” suspicious Iranians entering the country,
regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. In practice, CBP’s actions amount to illegal detentions of United States citizens.
OCA denounces this racial profiling as a gross violation of the law and a complete infringement on the rights of Iranian Americans. OCA
believes that our country should have realized the grave wrongdoings of Japanese American internment, in which American citizens
were targeted for their Japanese ancestry during wartime. However, CAIR’s reports indicate that America is bound by the same fear,
and the rights of Americans continue to be jeopardized.
“OCA calls on the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection to end acts of racial discrimination disguised
under ‘national security,’” said Roland Hwang, OCA National Vice President of Public Affairs. “These acts perpetuate unnecessary fear
of immigrants which only further divides our country.”
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separately announced that they would be piloting a new DNA collection
program for detainees between the ages of 14 and 79. While this program is starting at the Detroit and Texas Eagle Pass ports of entry
(and therefore is not currently affecting Peace Arch, where Iranian Americans were detained), it is still an invasive violation of the 4th
amendment right to privacy. It is planned to scale to all ports of entry within three years. Furthermore, considering DHS’ past
disorganization, the harvesting of migrant DNA raises questions about the use and security of this genetic material. Ultimately, the
practice of collecting DNA is unnecessary to reach DHS’ goals and violates the rights of Americans and other migrants.
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national civil rights organization dedicated to improving the social, political, and
economic well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).