WAISN Statement and Action in Response to Blaine, WA Border Crisis Over the Weekend

Seattle, WA 1/7/2020: The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) reported Sunday that up to 150 Iranians and Iranian-Americans experienced extremely long delays and about 60 of them were detained and questioned at length at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, WA this weekend. Those detained reported having their passports held while they were questioned about their political views and allegiances. See

These reports, as well as information from a source at Customs & Border Protection (CBP) that CBP has heightened questioning of communities of Iranian heritage, are being investigated by CAIR-WA, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), and other advocacy organizations, as well as the offices of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Senator Patty Murray, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Congressman Rick Larsen, Congressman Adam Smith, Governor Jay Inslee, Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib, the Washington State Attorney General, the Port of Seattle and more.

WAISN is closely monitoring this unfolding situation, is coordinating with state and national allies, and has placed some of its Rapid Response Teams on alert in the event people are needed at the Canadian border or SeaTac airport to support and protect our communities constitutional rights through bystander documentation.

Our communities are powerful and resilient. Our network of immigrant and refugee-rights organizations and individuals distributed across Washington State will continue to protect, serve and strengthen all communities in our state. It is in these times that we must remind each other that we have rights, and that our families belong together and free without fear of violence or persecution.

In the meantime, here’s how you can help:

  • Share Know Your Rights information to Iranian-American friends and communities: and/or
  • If you have personal knowledge of an Iranian or Iranian-American (or anyone else) detained at any port of entry into Washington State, or a family of a detained person in need of assistance, or if you are willing to share your personal experience if you were detained, please contact any or all of the following:
  1. WAISN hotline: 1–844–724–3737;
  2. CAIR-WA:; for legal assistance, complete this form;
  3. Iranian American Bar Association:; those detained can fill out their confidential intake form here;
  4. Rep. Jayapal’s office (for personal stories/requests):
  • We need to continue growing our powerful community Rapid Response teams to be organized in solidarity. WAISN will be holding two online trainings on Tuesday 1/14/20 & Wednesday 1/22/20 from 5–7PM. Sign up here:
  • Stay tuned for more information about actions and events being planned by local and national organizations here:
  • Follow this developing story and raise awareness on social media about what happened to Iranian-Americans to help ensure this does not happen again to Iranian-Americans or any of us. You can remain updated via the WAISN listserv and/or Facebook page, or directly follow CAIR-Washington and/or NWIRP on Facebook.
  • Contact your senators and congressional representative* and convey:
  1. You are concerned about reports that Iranians and Iranian-Americans have been targeted based on their national origin and/or were detained at the Canadian border, and you want your representative to investigate and hold Customs & Border Protection and the Dept. of Homeland Security accountable.

2. You urge passage of the NO BAN Act, which would repeal all versions of the Muslim ban, refugee ban, and asylum ban; change immigration law to prevent discrimination based on religion; and limit executive authority to prevent any president from issuing future discriminatory bans again.

*Phone numbers and email contact for your Senators and Congressional Representatives:

Senator Patty Murray: (202) 224–2621

Senator Maria Cantwell: (202) 224–3441

District 1: Rep. Suzan DelBene (202) 225–6311

District 2: Rep. Rick Larsen (202) 225–2605

District 3: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (202) 225–3536

District 4: Rep. Dan Newhouse (202) 225–5816

District 5: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (202) 225–2006

District 6: Rep. Derek Kilmer (202) 225–5916

District 7: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (202) 225–3106

District 8: Rep. Kim Schrier (202) 225–7761

District 9: Rep. Adam Smith (202) 225–8901

District 10: Rep. Denny Heck (202) 225–9740

Not sure which district you’re in? Look up your representative by zip code here:

The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network is a powerful coalition of nearly 200 immigrant and refugee rights organizations and individuals in over 22 counties across Washington state that strive to protect, serve, and strengthen our communities. The role of the network is to provide support, capacity, and resources to organizations whose efforts build power and a united voice in Washington. Learn more here

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