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

Nanaimo hospital’s new 5,000-kilogram MRI magnet delivered

$1.97-million magnet will boost NRGH medical imaging capabilities

Nanaimo taking inventory of health, housing, homelessness services

Task force launches resource mapping project

Fewer birds tallied in Nanaimo’s recent winter count

1,550 fewer fowl counted than previous year, but there were a few unusual sightings

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Snow-covered sidewalks are a hazard

City refuses to change its current operational practices, says letter writer

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Schools should not have been closed Thursday

Our children have missed a day of school because of poor decision-making, says letter writer

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Most Read