WASHINGTON — American lawmakers from Washington state are demanding answers following reports that Americans and Canadians of Iranian descent were delayed for hours at the Canada-U.S. border over the weekend.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal says she believes the delays were a direct result of fallout from the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad last week that killed a top Iranian general, triggering vows of retaliation and an outpouring of outrage in the Middle East.
Jayapal hosted a news conference in Seattle with Negah Hekmati, a Seattle-area interior designer and mother of two, who was held up at the border for five hours on Saturday on her way home from a family holiday in Canada.
Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer based near the border in Blaine, Wash., says several of his clients — some born in Canada, all of them of Persian descent — were held up for hours and subjected to intensive, personal questioning while trying to re-enter the United States.
Saunders says when he visited the facility later that day, he saw between 75 and 100 people waiting to be processed at the Peace Arch crossing.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has denied that Iranian-Americans were being detained or denied entry due to their country of origin, but acknowledges operating under an “enhanced posture” at points of entry due to the “current threat environment.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2020.
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The Canadian Press