Leaked memo shows that border officers were ordered to detain travelers tied to Iran — despite denials: report

Leaked memo shows that border officers were ordered to detain travelers tied to Iran — despite denials: report
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan Department of Homeland Security, speaks with United States Customs and Border Protection officers along the border area of Otay Mesa, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, a neighborhood along the Mexican border in San Diego, Calif. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Fears of an all-out war between the United States and Iran escalated earlier this month following the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani by U.S. forces. And CNN is reporting that an internal memo from the U.S. Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) indicates that officers working at Canadian ports of entry were “directed to detain and question travelers of Iranian descent,” including U.S. citizens, following the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani by U.S. forces earlier this month.


The memo that CNN has obtained a copy of was issued by the Tactical Analytical Unit of CBP’s Seattle office and was titled “Iranian Supreme Leader Vows Forceful Revenge after U.S. Kills Maj. General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad — Threat Alert High.” In the memo, CBP urged close screening of anyone born in Iran, Lebanon or the Palestinian territories between 1961 and 2001 as well as anyone connected to those places.

In early January, after Soleimani’s death, many U.S. citizens of Iranian descent reported being stopped at the port of entry in Blaine, Washington.  But CBP officials denied that there were orders to question travelers at the U.S./Canada border based on their ethnicity. Canada has a large community of Iranian immigrants.

The memo urges CBP officers to question travelers about their connections to the Iranian military, especially the Revolutionary Guard and its elite Quds force (which Soleimani was part of).

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives via Washington State, said in an official statement that if reports of the CBP memo are true, it is “absolutely unacceptable, and it reminds us of the dark times in our country’s history. We cannot implement loyalty tests or discriminate against individuals in the name of national security.”

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