- US Customs and Border Protection denied that it detained Iranians and Iranian-Americans at the US-Canada border after allegations from a Muslim-rights group and a viral tweet.
- A spokesperson for the agency flatly denied the allegation, which came after days of deteriorating US-Iran tensions.
- The killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military official, under orders from President Donald Trump marked what many lawmakers and international officials described as a concerning escalation.
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US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denied that its agents were detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing them entry amid ramped-up tensions between Iran and the US.
The allegation first surfaced in a viral tweet that included photos of a press release issued by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) alleging that the group was assisting more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans who were detained and questioned at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington.
In an email statement to Insider, CBP spokesperson Michael Friel flatly denied any such actions by authorities with the agency or the Department of Homeland Security.
“Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the US because of their country of origin are false,” Friel said. “Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”
Hamed Aleaziz, an immigration reporter for BuzzFeed News, wrote on Twitter that the agency also said that it was “operating with an enhanced posture at its ports of entry” based on the current “threat environment.”
“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 America people while simultaneously protecting the civil rights and liberties of everyone,” the agency told Aleaziz, according to the tweet.
Aleaziz also tweeted that the agency said the port of entry had longer than usual wait times that amounted to nearly two hours on Sunday due to increased travel around the holiday season.
CAIR did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The allegations expressed in the tweet and the alleged press release of increased scrutiny and undue detention at the border come after the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military official, under orders from President Donald Trump, in what many lawmakers and international officials described as a concerning escalation.
The US shocked the region when a successful airstrike killed Soleimani at the Baghdad airport on January 3, triggering fiery responses from Iraq and Iran and two rocket launches over the course of two days that were located near the US Embassy in Baghdad.