Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the reports of Iranian-Americans being detained at the U.S.-Canadian border were “deeply alarming” as well as
“wrong and rife with constitutional and moral problems.”
The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Sunday it was helping more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans who were detained at length and questioned at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine.
CAIR-WA also said many more “were reportedly refused entry to the United States due to a lack of capacity for Customs and Border Patrol to detain them.”
The council said other Iranian-Americans had hoped to cross at the Peace Arch Border to get home in the United States after an Iranian pop concert Saturday in Vancouver, Canada.
Inslee, in a statement released Monday, invoked the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. Inslee’s residential home is on Bainbridge Island, where the first Japanese in the United States — 227 men, women, and children of Japanese descent — were forcibly removed in March 1942 and sent to the internment camp in Manzanar, California.
“The reports out of the border crossing at Blaine are deeply alarming,” Inslee said in a statement. “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,” Inslee said.