Alia Ghandi, Iranian citizen detained in Portland, Oregon
The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement on the
arrest of an Iranian citizen with a valid visa in Oregon:
"The National Iranian American Council calls upon authorities to release and explain the arrest and detention of Alia Ghandi, an Iranian citizen who holds a valid U.S. visa. Ghandi's arrest raises a number of concerns that Iranians are still being unfairly targeted by immigration enforcement due to their national origin, in spite of court orders putting a hold on Trump's Muslim ban."
"Ghandi traveled to Oregon to visit her sister who is a U.S. citizen, where upon arrival a customs officer reportedly questioned her on why she had so many documents with her and subsequently denied her entry. Alia protested the deportation and was promptly arrested and sent to the Takoma Northwest Detention Center. Alia's sister has not yet been permitted to visit her in jail even though she has been detained for over 48-hours."
"Alia's sister claims she has since been asked if she wanted Alia - an architect - to remain in the U.S. and serve as a babysitter for her two young children. We understand that customs agents have a responsibility to ask tough questions, albeit in a respectful manner. According to Matthew dos Santos, Legal Director of ACLU Oregon, Alia has decided to claim asylum, which is her right, and the U.S. has an obligation to hear her case. Rather than being thrown in jail, asylum seekers should be welcomed, assisted, and permitted a chance to be heard by a judge."
"Visitors from Muslim and Middle Eastern countries have long felt unwelcome at U.S. airports and the entry process - even with a visa - remains arbitrary. We fear that the Trump administration and its Muslim Ban executive orders have empowered a culture of xenophobia rather than professionalism within Customs and Border Patrol, as numerous examples including Ghandi's demonstrate. Further, this climate of fear risks unduly targeting and diminishing Iranian's desire to even pursue their dreams or visit their family here in the United States. The fate of valid visa holders should not be determined by the "luck of the draw" in which agent greets them at the border and detention should be reserved for criminals."
... Payvand News - 03/31/17 ... --