(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.”
BREAKING: US CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION NATIONALLY HAVE BEEN ORDERED TO DETAIN & "REPORT" ALL IRANIANS ENTERING THE COUNTRY DEEMED POTENTIALLY SUSPICIOUS OR "ADVERSARIAL" REGARDLESS OF CITIZENSHIP STATUS. 60+ Iranis held last night at the US/Canada border for 11+ hrs / thread
— Hoda Katebi هدی کاتبی (@hodakatebi) January 5, 2020
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
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.
Deeply disturbed by reports that Iranian Americans, including U.S. citizens, are being detained at the Canadian border with WA State.
My office has been working on this all morning. Please contact us with information on directly affected people at [email protected]
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) January 5, 2020
“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.”
URGENT: we are hearing credible reports of detentions at US borders, both of Iranian Americans and permanent residents. We are working to independently verify, coordinating with lawmakers & allies. If you have information please share it directly with us at [email protected]
— NIAC (@NIACouncil) January 5, 2020
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.
Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false. Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.
— CBP (@CBP) January 5, 2020
However, Abed Ayoub, Legal and Policy Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, claims to have a paper trail proving otherwise.
This is false.
I got a message from a CBP officer who states they were explicitly told detain and question Iranians, regardless of citizenship. I have the receipts as the youngins say.
They were also wanted to cover their uniform so they don’t get attacked. https://t.co/DbbxgOlehX
— Abed A. Ayoub (@aayoub) January 6, 2020