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PAAIA Launches Campaign to Combat Increasing Discrimination Against Iranian Americans


Press Release by Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), February 7, 2020

Iranian Americans Are American will encourage greater awareness of Iranian American beliefs and contributions

Washington, DC - Amid mounting tensions between the U.S. and Iran that have resulted in renewed discrimination of Iranian Americans, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today launched Iranian Americans Are American to reaffirm that Iranian Americans are, first and foremost, American. This campaign launches as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admitted to inappropriately targeting Iranian Americans and breaching agency protocol last month when they detained hundreds of Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canadian border simply because of their national origin.

"During times of conflict, our community has faced increased suspicion and discrimination," said PAAIA Executive Director Leila Austin. "PAAIA's Iranian Americans Are American campaign seeks to highlight the American identity of Iranian Americans across social media and through community engagement and direct outreach to members of Congress."

Iranian Americans Are American will encourage greater understanding of the Iranian American community by highlighting the democratic beliefs, contributions to U.S. economy, culture, safety, and security of this vibrant, ethnic community. PAAIA is calling on allies to show their support for the Iranian American community by following PAAIA on Facebook and Twitter and liking, sharing and reposting campaign content.

In January, PAAIA was flooded with reports that hundreds of Iranian Americans, including young children, had been detained by CBP at the Peace Arch Border on the Washington State/Canadian border. The majority were U.S. citizens and permanent residents, detained solely based on their ethnicity or national origin. Instead of a warm welcome back to their country, these Iranian Americans were greeted with lengthy and invasive questioning about their family and employment histories, their parents' mandatory military service in Iran, their allegiance to the U.S. or Iran, and their faith - a clear violation of their First Amendment Rights.

"No American should face discrimination because of their ethnicity or country of origin," added Austin. "PAAIA believes that through greater education about Iranian Americans, we can begin to quell the discrimination that has long afflicted our community."

According to the results of a 2018 survey conducted by PAAIA, 77 percent of Iranian Americans expressed concerns about discrimination. Of those surveyed, 49 percent indicated that they have personally experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity or country of origin.

About PAAIA:

The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization that serves the interests of Iranian Americans and represents the community before U.S. policymakers and the American public at large.

We work to expand opportunities for the active participation of Iranian Americans in the democratic process at all levels of government and in public debate, provide opportunities for advancement for our next generation, educate the American public and policymakers on the Iranian American community and their opinions, and foster greater understanding between the people of Iran and the United States.


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