Following the airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, multiple reports have emerged that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol detained dozens of people at the Blaine, Wash., port of entry over the weekend.
The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement that they are “assisting more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans of all ages who were detained at length and questioned at the Peace Arch Border Crossing.”
“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,” the group states.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are at one of their highest points since the 1979 Iranian Revolution after President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that killed the regime’s top general near the Baghdad airport last week.
Iran has vowed to retaliate for the killing of Soleimani, the leader of the elite Quds Force.
CBP has refuted these reports by releasing a statement:
“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.”
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that these “reports are deeply alarming. Washingtonians, who happen to be Iranian-American, were detained at the Canadian-U.S. border because of their ethnicity or country of origin.”
He continued that “This is wrong and rife with constitutional and moral problems. No one should be treated differently due to where they come from, how they look or what language they speak” and that the CBP’s “denial of these reports are simply not credible.”
Among those who gave a first-person account during a press conference in Seattle Monday was Negah Hekmati, 38, a local interior designer. She was born in Iran, moved to Canada and now lives in the U.S. She has citizenship in all three countries and was in Canada last week on a skiing vacation with her family, including her Iranian-born husband who is now a computer software engineer for Microsoft and their children.
Hekmati says all her family members have U.S. passports.
She continued that they were driving back into the U.S. around midnight on Saturday and used their NEXUS fast-access border crossing card and were taken aside for secondary inspection.