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UPDATED: CBP Denies Detaining Iranian-Americans and Refusing Them Entry into U.S.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been detaining Iranians and Iranian-Americans up at the U.S.-Canada border in Washington state, says the Council on American-Islamic Relations. A spokesperson for the agency said they didn’t detain anyone, and didn’t deny them entry into the United States over country of origin.

The group said over 60 people–all Iranians and Iranian-Americans–were detained at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington. Others were turned back and refused the chance to enter the U.S. because CBP didn’t have space to detain them, CAIR said.

“Those detained reported that their passports were confiscated as they were questioned about their political views, allegiances, what courses were studied in college, and other invasive and interrogative questions,” they wrote. They said there was a CBP source who said the Department of Homeland Security issued a national order for CBP agents to report and detain people of Iranian decent from entering the U.S. if they’re “deemed potentially suspicious or ‘adversarial,’ regardless of citizenship status.”

A CBP spokesperson denied 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,” a spokesperson told Law&Crime in a statement. “Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”

A CBP source construed the situation as people facing increased wait-times at ports of entry.

“At the Blaine POE, wait times increased to an average of two hours on Saturday evening, although some travelers experienced wait times of up to four hours due to increased volume and reduced staff during the holiday season,” the source told Law&Crime. “Current wait times Sunday morning were about 40 minutes for passenger vehicles. CBP does not discriminate based on religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”

Journalist Negar Mortazavi said she spoke to a man, who said he and his family were held for five to six hours.

This reported situation has popped up on the radar of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington, 7th District).

Updated – January 5, 2020, 5:29p.m.: We added the response from CBP.

[Image via Alex Edelman/Getty Images]

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