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CAIR-WA Assisting Iranian-Americans Detained at U.S. Border

SEATTLE, Jan. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) is assisting more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans of all ages who were detained at length and questioned at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Wash.

Many more were reportedly refused entry to the United States due to a lack of capacity for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to detain them.

Other Iranian-Americans are about to cross the Peace Arch Border as they return back to their homes in the United States from an Iranian pop concert that was taking place on Saturday in Vancouver, Canada.

Those detained reported that their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances. CBP officials contacted at the Blaine Port of Entry provided no comment or reasons for the detentions.

[NOTE: CAIR published "Know Your Rights" materials online in English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Farsi, Bengali, and Bosnian. The multi-language civil rights materials may be printed out for personal use or for distribution at local events. GO TO: https://www.cair.com/KnowYourRights]

Crystal, a 24-year-old American citizen and medical student was allegedly detained and interrogated for more than 10 hours with her family at the Peace Arch Border Crossing before being released early this morning. "The vast majority of people being held last night were American citizens," said Crystal. "We kept asking why we were being detained and asked questions that had nothing to do with our reason for traveling and was told 'I'm sorry this is just the wrong time for you guys.'"

A source at CBP reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has 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. CBP at the Peace Arch Border Crossing did not confirm or deny this report. 

"These reports are extremely troubling and potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens," said Masih Fouladi, executive director of CAIR-WA. "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." 

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

CONTACT: CAIR-WA Executive Director Masih Fouladi, 714-801-0349; CAIR-WA Communications Coordinator Jessica Schreindl, jschreindl@cair.com, 206.367.4081

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SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)