Lofgren seeks answers from Trump administration after reports of travelers turned away at U.S. border for religious and political views

January 24, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security General John Kelly today following alarming news reports of Canadian citizens subjected to questioning and denied entry to the United States based on political and religious affiliation.

"Denying entry to peaceful men and women on a political or religious basis does nothing to protect our security and everything to undermine our core national principles. There is no legal basis for denying an individual for a political or religious reason pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act," the letter reads.

Lofgren goes on to ask Secretary Kelly to "conduct a thorough review of border inspection and admission practices so as to prevent unlawful and un-American political or religious tests from determining who may come into our country."

The letter notes that "we must maintain an immigration system that is fair, impartial, and worthy of the United States' bedrock commitment to freedom of religious belief and political opinion. Draconian restrictions that discriminate against political opinion or religion run contrary to our nation's character, and harken us back to the dark days of McCarthy-style witch hunts."

The full text of the letter can be found here, and below:


The Honorable General John F. Kelly

Secretary of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC  20528

 

Dear Secretary Kelly:

 

I applaud your lifetime of distinguished service to the United States military, and your role as Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command South. As you assume leadership of the Department of Homeland Security and its immigration agencies, I look forward to working with you on measures that honor and protect our history as an immigrant nation.

I am writing to express my concern regarding recent news reports that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are denying entry to the United States based on an individual's political and/or religious affiliation. In particular, multiple news outlets have reported that several Canadians were denied entry after they expressed interest in attending the recent Women's March on Washington and the Presidential Inauguration.[1] CBP agents reportedly asked travelers whether they were "pro or anti-Trump," then refused their admission, stating that the travelers would have received entry had they politically supported President Trump. CBP officers reportedly denied another set of peaceful Canadians after questioning not only their political beliefs, but whether they practiced Islam. 

Denying entry to peaceful men and women on a political or religious basis does nothing to protect our security and everything to undermine our core national principles. There is no legal basis for denying an individual for a political or religious reason pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. I ask that you conduct a thorough review of border inspection and admission practices so as to prevent unlawful and un-American political or religious tests from determining who may come into our country.  If this is reflective of a change in policy within the Department, I urge you to reverse course.  If this is merely the actions of a few rogue officers, I encourage you to discipline such action and ensure that it does not occur again.

We must maintain an immigration system that is fair, impartial, and worthy of the United States' bedrock commitment to freedom of religious belief and political opinion. Draconian restrictions that discriminate against political opinion or religion run contrary to our nation's character, and harken us back to the dark days of McCarthy-style witch hunts.

Moving forward, we may not see eye to eye on all immigration matters, but I am sure we can agree on the need to protect our country's core values.  I welcome your future collaboration, appreciate your attention to this important matter, and await your prompt response.

 

Sincerely,

 

_________________________________

Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

Committee on the Judiciary

 

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