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Customs and Border Patrol push back against claims Iranian-American citizens are being detained at U.S. border

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The Iranian flag waves outside of the UN building that hosts the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, office inside in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran is at a crossroads. His administration is trying to decide whether to risk stoking international tensions even more by ending one of the last remaining components of the 2015 nuclear deal. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

SEATTLE, WA (WTNH) — More than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans were detained at length and questioned at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington over the weekend, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR reported Sunday that a source they have at Customs and Border Patrol revealed that Iranians and Iranian-Americans of all ages were being detained at the U.S./Canada border over the weekend.

Beyond the 60 detained, CAIR reports that many more were refused entry due to lack of detention capacity by Customs and Border Patrol.

According to CAIR, those detained reported that their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances.

Crystal, a 24-year-old American citizen and medical student told CAIR she was allegedly detained and interrogated with her family for more than 10 hours at the Peach Arch Border Crossing before being released Sunday morning.

“The vast majority of people being held last night were American citizens. We kept asking why we were being detained and we were asked questions that had nothing to do with our reason for traveling….[we were] told ‘I’m sorry this is just the wrong time for you guys.'”

– Crystal, a 24-year-old Iranian – American citizen

A source at CBP reportedly told CAIR that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a national order to “‘report’ and detain anyone with Iranian heritage entering the country who is deemed potentially suspicious or “adversarial,” regardless of citizenship status.”

CBP at the Peace Arch Border Crossing did not confirm or deny this report. CBP has not provided comment on this situation.

The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) is assisting those detained.

The Executive Director of CAIR-WA, Masih Fouladi, commented that the reports coming from the border are “extremely troubling and potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens.”

“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.

We will continue to update the community and other civil rights organizations as we obtain more information.”    

– Executive Director of CAIR Washington, Masih Fouladi

CAIR provides “Know Your Rights” materials online in English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Farsi, Bengali, and Bosnian: https://www.cair.com/KnowYourRights

Late Sunday afternoon, CBP released a statement regarding tweets about Iranian-American detentions, saying “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 DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”

CBP’s statement does not address claims of Iranian detention at the U.S. border.

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