VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — After going to an Iranian pop concert in Vancouver Saturday, more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans were detained while trying to cross the Peace Arch Border back into the U.S.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the border crossers were trying to return home, but many were questioned and refused entry into the U.S.
The organization says those detained were questioned about their allegiances and political views and had their passports confiscated.
A 24-year-old American medical student and her family were released early Sunday morning after being held and interrogated for more than 10 hours.
“The vast majority of people being held last night were American citizens,” she told the council.
“We kept asking why we were being detained and [kept being] asked questions that had nothing to do with our reason for traveling. I was told ‘I’m sorry this is just the wrong time for you guys.'”
Masih Fouladi, executive director of CAIR says the group is working with detained Iranian-Americans to provide them with “accurate travel guidance.”
“These reports are extremely troubling and potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens,” he said.
The detentions come three days after Iran’s top general was killed in a U.S. airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump.
US Customs and Border Protection took to social media to say the detentions were neither based on nationality nor ordered by the U.S. government.
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. Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.
— CBP (@CBP) January 5, 2020
Since the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the region has braced for the Islamic Republic to fulfill its vow of revenge.
Iran has vowed harsh retaliation, raising fears of an all-out war, but it’s unclear how or when it might respond.
Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s regional policy of mobilizing militias across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, including in the war against the Islamic State group. He was also blamed for attacks on U.S. troops and American allies going back decades.
With files from The Associated Press