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

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Kids finally back to school and masked-up

Two days of orientation to kick-up the school year

Northern Health records 1st fatality due to COVID-19

Six people died from the novel coronavirus on the weekend, health officials confirm

Police look for vehicle, male driver after incident involving girl, 11

The driver was described as an older Caucasian male with white hair, no glasses, and no facial hair

Big Pig goes virtual this year

The otherwise three-day event will be a month-long affair

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

B.C.’s 1st mental health and addictions minister won’t be seeking re-election

MLA Judy Darcy is the fifth cabinet minister not intending to run in the next election

Vancouver’s shuttered aquarium searching for financial solution amid pandemic

The aquarium needs about $1 million a month to cover its costs

B.C., Alberta sending nearly 300 fire personnel by Friday to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Some 230 firefighters, most from British Columbia but including a number from Alberta, will be deployed Friday

Most Read