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“Extremely Troubling”: Iranian-Americans Illegally Detained and Questioned at US Border

Over 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans were detained, questioned at the US border. Others were refused entry.




(TMU) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Washington state (CAIR-WA) is reporting that more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans were detained and questioned by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington. Others were refused entry into the United States.

According to CAIR-WA, an Iranian pop concert took place just across the northern border with Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a result, numerous Iranian-Americans have been attempting to return to their homes in the United States.

Those detained were questioned about their “political views and allegiances” and reported having their passports confiscated.

Masih Fouladi, Executive Director of CAIR Washington calls the reports “extremely troubling,” saying they “potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens.”

Tensions have been steadily increasing between the U.S. and Iran after a series of tit-for-tat events led up to U.S. President Donald Trump ordering the assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani.

CAIR claims that, according to an anonymous source from CBP, “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a national order to CBP to ‘report’ and detain anyone with Iranian heritage entering the country who is deemed potentially suspicious or ‘adversarial,’ regardless of citizenship status.”

According to a press release, a 24-year-old American citizen identified as Crystal “was detained and interrogated for more than 10 hours with her family.”

Crystal is quoted as saying:

“The vast majority of people being held last night were American citizens. We kept asking why we were being detained and asked questions that had nothing to do with our reason for traveling and was told ‘I’m sorry this is just the wrong time for
you guys.’”

Hoda Katebi, Iranian-American writer and activist, is quoted in the release as saying:

“This clear, gross violation of US law acts only as a further escalation of continued violence and aggression toward Iran and Iranian people that have only escalated with Trump’s Travel Ban on Iranian nationals, the withdrawal from the JCPOA/Iran Nuclear Deal despite Iran’s compliance, the addition of crippling US sanctions on Iran which have taken a deep toll on the lives of everyday Iranians, and most recently the reckless assasination of Iranian top military general Qasem Soleimani.”

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal from Washington is “deeply disturbed” by the reports.

Fouladi said:

“We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance.”

The National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) is “working to independently verify, coordinating with lawmakers and allies.”

The press release can be read in full below:


UPDATE (1/6/20) —

In a tweet on Sunday, Customs and Border Patrol denied the above accusations.

However, Abed Ayoub, Legal and Policy Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, claims to have a paper trail proving otherwise.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons |

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