Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) February 12, 2020 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denied reports that more than 60 Iranian Americans were detained at the U.S.- Canada border on January 4, 2020 and refused entry to the United States. They were allegedly held for extended periods of time at a port of entry in Blaine, Washington.
The detained individuals were trying to return home to the United States after attending an Iranian pop concert in Vancouver, Canada. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the Iranian Americans were questioned about their political beliefs and allegiances. They also had their passports confiscated.
“Overall heightened scrutiny of foreign nationals applying for admission to the United States is an appropriate response given an increase in international tensions between the United States and Iran,” commented Stewart Rabinowitz of the Dallas and Frisco law firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “Subjecting U.S. citizens — native born or naturalized of Iranian origin — to a critical examination of their political beliefs as a condition of admission into the country is plainly wrong. It is also legally actionable.”
Reports of Iranian Americans being detained came in light of heightened military tensions between Iran and the United States after the Trump Administration ordered an airstrike that killed Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani. A series of viral social media posts circulated claims that the U.S. government had issued a broad national directive to CBP to detain “all Iranians entering the country deemed potentially suspicious,” regardless of citizenship status.
CBP denied reports of Iranian Americans being detained at the Peace Arch border crossing and stated that the detentions were not ordered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security nor were they based on the individuals’ country of origin. The agency did not comment on reports of people being questioned about their political beliefs.
A CBP officer confirmed that security measures were enhanced at border checkpoints as standard protocol due to the simmering tensions with Iran. The longer wait times for some individuals were an inadvertent outcome resulting from an increased volume of border crossers and fewer employees during the holiday season.
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