Border agency ordered to share memo directing questioning of Iranians, others

A CBP spokesperson at the time neither confirmed nor denied the memo’s authenticity but previously called reports that the agency had issued such a directive “false.”

“As a matter of policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not comment on pending litigation,” agency spokesperson Jason Givens said in response to the document production. “However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations.”

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan tried to distance agency headquarters from the controversy in February, denying any “national directive” to target travelers based on country of origin. He said the Seattle office’s actions were “not in line with our direction, and so that was immediately corrected and was very unique to that one sector.”

More information: An earlier version of the directive outlined questions for border agents in the Seattle field office to direct to travelers detained for secondary inspection. They focused on past military service of the individuals or their family members, where they went to school and their careers.

“Some industries are tied to the government, try to find out as much about their occupation, position, company history, especially if the company was in existence during reconstruction following Iraq-Iran war,” that document said.

Judge’s reasoning: U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez allowed CBP to continue to redact some documents describing law enforcement tactics and procedures while publicizing information pertaining to the “underlying unlawful activity.”

“The Court’s order makes clear that the government unlawfully sought to conceal illegal conduct, as the directive unlawfully targeted individuals based solely on their national origin,” Matt Adams, NWIRP’s legal director, said in a statement.

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