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Legislator Expresses Concern About ‘Religious Profiling’ at Chicago Airport

Rep. Steele is urging Customs and Border Protection to thoroughly investigate an incident that may be linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

A member of Congress from California has called for an inquiry into a customs officer who reportedly harassed a U.S. artist group over their beliefs at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) penned a letter to Troy Miller, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), highlighting concerning events at the airport, including the officer labeling Shen Yun Performing Arts as “political” and “illegal” and asking offensive questions that left the artists feeling uncomfortable.

Steel stated that the customs officer’s actions on March 11 traumatized the group members and caused unnecessary delays. She emphasized that the officer’s behavior echoed Chinese Communist Party propaganda aimed at demeaning Shen Yun.

She called on the CBP to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter to determine if there was any connection to the Chinese Communist Party.

Teresa Du, Shen Yun’s tour manager, recounted the customs officer making derogatory remarks about the group, referring to them as Falun Gong and insinuating political affiliations.

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The customs officer, whose accent suggested a mainland Chinese origin, questioned Ms. Du about Falun Gong sponsorship and interacted with other group members while they were undergoing processing.

Falun Gong faces severe persecution in China, including torture and forced organ harvesting.

Chinese Communist Party propaganda demonizes Falun Gong in textbooks and state media. The officer’s behavior appeared to be in line with this propaganda, according to Rep. Steel’s letter.

The incident was condemned by other lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who described it as a violation of constitutional rights and discrimination based on beliefs.

Steel emphasized the significance of protecting First Amendment rights and preventing officers with foreign sympathies from influencing others based on personal beliefs.

She highlighted that Shen Yun showcases traditional Chinese culture rooted in spirituality and influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

CBP responded to inquiries by members of Congress, stating that they address concerns through appropriate channels and strictly prohibit profiling based on race or religion.

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