Did U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents over the weekend target Iranian-Americans and Iranians crossing the Canadian-U.S. Border at Blaine, Wash., and then detain them for an inordinate amount of time — even confiscating some of their passports?
Customs and Border Protection officials said emphatically this did not occur.
But Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal and the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations don’t buy the claim by CBP officials.
Council officials said it assisted more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans who had been detained and questioned for a lengthy time in Blaine, about 25 miles north of Bellingham.
Jayapal held a news conference Monday at which an Iranian-born woman said she, her husband and their two young children — all American citizens — were held and questioned at the Canadian border for five hours.
“The reports out of the border crossing at Blaine are deeply alarming,” Inslee said in a statement. “... 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.”
We would agree.
It is wrong to single out people by race, ethnicity or religion at borders, airports or any other place. All should be treated equally and respectfully.
CBP officials, to this point, say the accusations are false and that there was no order sent from top CBP officials to detain Iranian-Americans.
“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,” CBP spokesman Michael Friel said in a statement to The Bellingham Herald Sunday. “Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”
It seems that before the governor or any other elected official seeks to take corrective action, they should insist an investigation is done to get the truth.
Political rhetoric is not helpful from anybody, particularly at a time when tensions are elevated given the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s top general.
“What Americans endured over the weekend in Blaine is unacceptable,” Inslee added in the release. “This will not stand in Washington state, and we will continue to push for answers to ensure that it does not happen again.”
Any problems at the Blaine border crossing should be looked at aggressively to find out what actually occurred.
If a high number of Iranian-Americans were detained without cause it’s important to find out why.