Iranian-Americans are detained at the border as they return from a rock concert in Canada

Donald Trump and a border detention facility (illustrative)
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

On 4 January, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials detained over 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans on the Canadian border with Washington State. They were reportedly “detained at length and questioned” while some were returning from a concert. Border officials released them on 5 January.

The detainees reported “their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances.” Washington State attempted to block Trump’s travel ban in March 2017.

Disturbing reports

On 5 January, several posts appeared on social media about these detentions. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said her office had been working on the matter:

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The office of Washington State lieutenant governor Cyrus Habib was looking into it:

Writer Hoda Katebi was also working on the issue and liaising with CBP:

Detainee reports

When one detained family asked why this was happening, an officer allegedly told them:

This is a bad time to be an Iranian.

Masih Fouladi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, said:

These reports are extremely troubling and potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens

Detentions denied

But CBP told The Canary:

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 [Department of Homeland Security] DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.

Support offered

Fouladi also said:

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.

CAIR has published “Know Your Rights” materials online to assist those travelling. This advice could also assist those who come into contact with law enforcement. CAIR in Washington said it is continuing to monitor the situation.

Featured image via Youtube – Channel 4 NewsYouTube – ABC News

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