Iran-US tensions: effects at the border and airports

Rianna Panergalin , Editor-in-Chief

In America, foreign policy often affects domestic affairs. We’ve seen this with Japanese-Americans being sent to internment camps during World War II. We are seeing this be repeated  in 2020, after the US drone attack that killed Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani ordered by President Trump, the tensions between the US and Iran have increased– overseas and on the mainland. These heightened tensions between the two countries have affected many of Iranian descent across the nation — especially while traveling. 

Not even a week since the killing of General Soleimani, “up to 200 people of Iranian descent” claimed that they were held at airports or at the US-Canadian border according to CBC News. They were held for interrogation for hours and were questioned about their connections to Iranian government and or military then denied entry into the US. The New York Times reported on several stories of Iranian-born people having very similar stories, for example: Hamid (who’s last name has not been released for privacy purposes) who goes to school at the University of Notre Dame was held at O’Hare Airport for 19 hours then sent back to Tehran. NYT details that Hamid found the whole entire experience as “humiliat[ing] and dehumanizing” because the Custom and Border Protection police treated him as a “terrorist”. 

This poses many questions whether these events have been issued by Custom and Border Protection service to only detain Iranian-born people exclusively, especially during this moment in time. CBC reports that CBP agents denied “detaining Iranian-born travellers” but CBC then reports an agent, who wants to to remain anonymous, who counterclaims CBP statements and that those who were detained “were due to their ethnicity” and were asked “counterterrorism questions”. That agent also continued to state that they found the “operation [as] unethical and possibly unconstitutional”. As of right now the US Homeland Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is investigating these allegations. CBP continues to deny the allegations.