In the wake of President Donald Trump’s assassination of a top Iranian general, reports flooded social media with incidents of Iranian-Americans being detained at the U.S. border, having their passports held from them, and questioned for hours. U.S. Customs and Border Protection denied the allegations on Sunday, despite some charges being made by at least one U.S. Congresswoman. CBP on Monday again denied the allegations despite more claims surfacing.
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 (@CBP) January 5, 2020
It appears CBP’s denials are false.
The New York Times on Tuesday reports that possibly hundreds of Iranian-Americans have been detained and questioned over the weekend in Washington state, which very likely could be a violation of their constitutional rights.
“Up to 200 people were held by border agents, with some of them reportedly asked to share their opinions about the situation in Iran and Iraq.” One was “asked whether she was part of any cult or Shiite Muslim organization.”
The L.A. Times adds that some families were detained overnight for five hours, and one family for 12 hours. One woman who was traveling with her young children says she was told it was a “new procedure,” adding, “I felt like we were in jail, detained for so many hours.”
The questions allegedly asked are not only intrusive but possibly illegal. Advocates at a news conference said some of the detained U.S. citizens were asked how they felt about the U.S. and what was happening in Iran, the NY Times reported.
Noting that some of the questions appeared to violate First Amendment, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project director, Hina Shamsi, said: “United States citizens and legal permanent residents do not have to answer questions about their political views or religious views and practices, and cannot be denied entry into the United States for declining to answer these questions.”
Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is speaking out.
“I don’t think there’s any reason that is rational — and certainly constitutional — to target people based on the place of their birth,” Inslee told the Times. “It’s pretty clear that that’s what they did here.”
Image by U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Flickr
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