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‘This Is the Smoking Gun’: Leaked Memo Details CBP Plan to Profile and Detain Iranian Americans


A leaked memo authored by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) details a plan to profile Iranian Americans and other people of Middle Eastern-descent, according to an immigration attorney in Washington State who claims to have obtained the document in question.

Per the Seattle Times, the photocopied document is currently in the possession of Len Saunders, who claims the memo was quietly dropped off at his office on Wednesday by a mysterious man wearing a hoodie who declined to leave his name.

Saunders claims the the memo is documentary proof of a CBP-issued directive to prolong immigration checkpoints, border crossing stops and questioning of Iranian Americans and others based on their actual or assumed ethnicity. CBP has consistently denied that any such directive was issued or that any such incidents occurred.

Dozens of contemporaneous accounts, however, called the agency’s honesty into question. Saunders says the memo also proves the agency was lying.

“Oh my god, this is the smoking gun,” the attorney told the outlet.

The document’s title reads:

Iranian Supreme Leader vows Forceful Revenge after US Kills Maj. General Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad — Threat Alert High

“All persons (males and females) born after 1961 and born before 2001 with links (place of birth, travel, citizenship) or any nexus to the following countries,” the document–first published in full by The Northern Lightbegins before listing off various place-names, including: Iran, Lebanon, Latin America, Israel, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and also making reference to “Palestinians.”

The document also appears to reference conservative and Islamophobic conspiracy theories concerning Shia Muslims.

“Military,” another section of the document reads, an apparent direction, “Even if they are not of SHIA faith, anyone can state they are Baha’i, please question further to determine this is the case. When in doubt send for high side checks.”

CBP spokesperson Jason Givens issued a non-denial denial in response–simply saying that the immigration enforcement agency “does not comment on leaked documents.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) was seeking to confirm the authenticity of the document in Saunders’ possession.

“This document, if verified as coming from the Seattle CBP Field Office, matches exactly the process described by CBP leadership in a briefing last week, our own sources inside CBP, and the credible and powerful accounts from travelers who faced extreme profiling at the U.S.-Canada border,” Jayapal said in a press statement.

This leaked memo matches what I heard from another CBP officer who also spoke to our office because he believed this was wrong,” she said via Twitter. “It also exactly matches what travelers experienced. CBP should immediately provide us with the documents I have requested.

The Seattle-based congresswoman followed up with additional criticism and reiterated her demand for those documents.

“CBP’s denials of policy directive to detain Iranian-Americans appear to be false,” she noted in a separate tweet. “My letter [with various House oversight committees]⁩ set [a] 2-week timeline for documents. CBP must immediately comply to get to bottom of this.”

Jayapal also personally confirmed the existence of the CBP’s profiling directive itself. She told the Seattle Times that a recent phone call with CBP officials made “clear that the CBP Seattle Field Office issued guidance targeting people of Iranian heritage.”

[image via John Moore/Getty Images]

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