Report: Memo counters CBP claim about detaining Iranian-Americans at WA border
In early January, over 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans were reportedly detained at the U.S./Canada border in Blaine, Washington, based on their nationality. Now, a memo first acquired by Blaine newspaper The Northern Light and reported by Crosscut details a directive from Customs and Border Patrol that supports those claims.
Shortly after the detentions were first reported, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said some people had passports taken and were grilled about their “political views and allegiances.” The council also claims some were held up to 12 hours.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol denied claims that it was instructed to detain or refuse entry to Iranian-Americans at the border.
“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.”
An internal memo issued to CBP’s Seattle office, though, appears to counter that statement, detailing a coordinated effort to “conduct vetting” for individuals at the border born between 1961 and 2001, from Palestine, Lebanon, and Iran, as well as “any other nationality that has traveled to Iran or Lebanon.”
The memo goes on to recommend additional vetting to determine “extremist ideology,” and “deceptive behaviors,” as well as connections to the Shia sect of Islam, with “scrutiny on military questions.”
Crosscut and The Northern Light acquired the memo from Blaine immigration lawyer Leonard Saunders, after it was dropped off at his office in an unmarked envelope by an anonymous source.
That backs up information provided to CAIR from a CBP source, that said the Department of Homeland Security had “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 The Northern Light, that operation was reportedly suspended after the detentions began circulating in national news.