Over 60 Iranian-Americans reportedly held at border in Washington over weekend
More than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans say they were detained at the U.S./Canada border in Blaine, Washington over the weekend.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says some people had passports taken, and were grilled about their “political views and allegiances.” The council also claims some people were help up to 12 hours. Others were reportedly denied entry due to a lack of capacity for Customs and Border Patrol to detain them.
A 24-year-old American citizen and medical student said she was told, “I’m sorry, this is just the wrong time for you guys,” after being held for 10 hours with her family.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol denies claims that it was instructed to detain or refuse entry to Iranian-Americans at the border despite these reports.
“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,” CBP said in a statement to KIRO 7 TV. “Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”
Both CAIR and Gov. Jay Inslee countered that claim.
“Customs and Border Protection denials of these reports are simply not credible,” said Inslee. “There are multiple firsthand accounts of CBP agents seizing people’s passports while they waited for up to 12 hours for re-entry into the United States. By all accounts, this is detention, regardless of whether the waiting area has bars on the windows.”
“A source at CBP reported that 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,” CAIR said in a news release.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said Sunday that she is “deeply disturbed,” and that her office is working to address the issue. She asks that anyone with information on directly affected people email her office at [email protected]
Gov. Jay Inslee also stated over the weekend that his office “is closely tracking” these reports.
This comes after the U.S. launched an air strike that killed a top Iranian general and an overall increase in tensions between the two nations.