U.S. launches investigation into Iranian-Americans held at B.C. border: congresswoman

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapa wrote that a civil rights inquiry has been opened

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has reportedly opened an investigation into reports of up to 60 Iranian-Americans being held for hours at the Peace Arch border this past weekend.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal wrote on Twitter Wednesday that the office has opened a civil rights inquiry, and she encouraged people who were impacted by the border incident to contact crclcompliance@hq.dhs.gov.

Earlier this week, the National Iranian American Council said some individuals – who were reportedly headed back to the U.S. after attending a Persian pop concert in Vancouver – were held in detention for up to 16 hours at the Peace Arch crossing and subjected to questioning as a result of their national heritage.

The reported border delays followed a pledge of retaliation from Iran after the U.S. killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike Friday in Baghdad.

US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael Friel told PAN via email Monday social media posts indicating that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing them entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false.

RELATED: ‘They were targeting us’: Iranian-Canadian held at U.S. border

Reports that the Department of Homeland Security/CBP has issued a related directive are also false, he said.

The statement provided by CBP also included background information, stating that “CBP does not discriminate based on religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”

“Based on the current threat environment, CBP is operating with an enhanced posture at its ports of entry to safeguard our national security and protect the American people while simultaneously protecting the civil rights and liberties of everyone,” the statement reads.

Jayapal, who also serves as vice-chairwoman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a news release Jan. 7 announcing her pressure on the Trump administration regarding the reported incident.

The letter, which was signed by a number of Jayapal’s colleagues, questioned the CBP’s public explanation that attributed long waits to high traffic during late hours and lower staffing levels.

The letter noted that the CBP’s public statements “do not explain why impacted persons were overwhelmingly of Iranian heritage, nor why pre-cleared U.S. citizen travelers would have been placed in secondary inspection and delayed for five hours,” or “why individuals appear to have been detained throughout the day on January 4, beginning as early as 8 a.m.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

Doctor says it was a visitor, Northern Health won’t confirm

Schools ramp up contact efforts with students

Efforts of school district employees called “extraordinary”

North District RCMP see massive spike in domestic calls

Connection to COVID-19 pandemic likely for reduced call volume, increased severity

Northwest mines lengthen crew rotations in response to COVID-19

Northern Health confident precautions sufficient enough to keep work camps open

Coastal GasLink gives $100K to United Way efforts in Northern B.C.

Organization’s COVID-19 Relief Fund benefits seniors in isolation, among others

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read