Some Iranian Americans are canceling vacations and expressing fear about traveling internationally after U.S. immigration authorities delayed many U.S. citizens of Iranian descent for questioning. Reportedly, immigration agents held about 200 Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canadian border in Blaine, Washington, for up to 12 hours. Similar instances of heightened screenings also have been reported by individuals at other airports and border crossings nationwide. Although the Trump Administration’s Iranian travel ban remains in effect, it does not apply to U.S. citizens or those who hold green cards. Nonetheless, these individuals appear to be targeted in the latest screenings at some points of entry.
Immigration advocates attribute the increased scrutiny of these travelers due to heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. after Iran publicly announced its intention to seek vengeance after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian commander. In response to these allegations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials stated that although heightened scrutiny is currently present at U.S. entry points, there is no directive to more closely question Iranian Americans. They also attributed the recent delays at the Canadian border to low staffing levels over a holiday weekend, which may have led to secondary screenings of some travelers.
Ultimately, CBP released all travelers and disputes the characterization of the incident as “detention.” As one immigration advocate noted, however, extensive questioning with an inability to leave seems to rise to the level of detention. Some of the travelers returning from a ski trip in Canada, who are all U.S. citizens, reported that CBP officials took their passports and car keys and detained them for more than five hours. The travelers endured questioning about everything from their social media accounts to one man’s service in the Iranian military. Others reported questions about their feelings on the current political relations between Iran and America.
The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the immigration cases of countless individuals and businesses facing immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf to get the outcome that you are seeking. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.