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CAIR-NY Reviews Report of CBP Profiling of Iranian-American at JFK

Muslim civil rights group encourages Iranian-American travelers to ”˜know your rights’

(NEW YORK, N.Y. 1/10/20) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today it has received a report of CBP profiling of an Iranian-American at JFK airport.

CAIR-NY also issued a “Know Your rights” advisory to all travelers, especially those of Iranian descent. 

The report to CAIR-NY comes after nationwide condemnation of CBP’s targeting of at least 60 travelers of Iranian descent in Washington state. CAIR’s Washington state chapter (CAIR-Washington) assisted Iranian-Americans who were reportedly detained at a border crossing this weekend and asked inappropriate questions about their political views on the situation in Iran.

NYT: U.S. Stops Dozens of Iranians Returning from Canada

Video: CAIR-WA Assists Iranian-Americans Detained at U.S. Border

CBP: Iranian-Americans, Iranians Subjected to 'Secondary Screenings' at Canadian border Crossing

Earlier today, reports surfaced that the Iranian Cultural Society of New Mexico received an inquiry from the Department of Homeland Security in the state asking if they've seen any suspicious activities .

SEE: New Mexico Agency Asks Iranian Group About Suspicious Acts

In a statement, CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed said:

“CBP apparently continues to engage in profiling and illegal questioning of travelers. Questioning individuals about their religious and political beliefs, associations and practices infringes on rights guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law.

“It is important for all travelers to know their rights before they travel. Any New Yorker, Iranian-Americans or others who experience harassment, travel delays, inappropriate law enforcement questioning, or other difficulties as a result of the rising tension between the United States and Iran should immediately contact CAIR-New York for legal assistance.”

In November of last year, CAIR published “Know Your Rights” materials online in English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Farsi, Bengali, and Bosnian. The multi-language civil rights materials may be printed out for personal use or for distribution at local events.

SEE: Download “Know Your Rights” Guides in Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, Farsi, Somali, Urdu, and English

CAIR-NY recommends that community members follow advice offered in its “Know Your Rights” materials.  As found in its Know Your Rights While Traveling brochure, travelers [U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents] are reminded that:


  • Ask questions regarding your immigration status to determine whether you have the right to enter the country
    • These are questions that establish your identity and citizenship or permanent residency
  • Search or ask about anything you are bringing back to the United States that you did not have with you when you left
  • Examine your baggage and everything in it
  • Physically take possession of your electronic items, but they cannot force you to unlock them. There are limits on how much data CBP can examine. For additional information regarding border searches of electronic devices, please visit:

Other routine questions include: the nature or purpose of your trip.  Although a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is not required to answer these routine questions, failure to answer may result in delay. Failure to answer these questions cannot lawfully result in a denial of admission for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.


  • Target you for additional screening or questions based on religious, racial or ethnic profiling
  • Ask you general questions without reliable information that leads them to believe you are breaking a law. For example, they cannot question you about your personal life, where you spend time, work, or worship.

NOTEIf you are a non-citizen visa holder or visitor, you may decline to answer general questions about your religious beliefs and political opinions, but doing so may lead to delay or additional questioning, or possibly denial of your entry into the country. If you are told you cannot enter the country and you fear you might be persecuted or tortured if you are sent back to the country from which you traveled, you should tell the customs officer about your fear and ask for asylum.

CAIR-NY encourages travelers of Iranian descent to register their travel with CAIR-NY and report all travel incidents. New Yorkers may contact CAIR-NY for assistance or to register their travel by filing an incident report online at or calling 646.665.7599 or emailing

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.


CONTACT: CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed,, 646-481-2103; CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher,, 917-669-4006

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