An apparent leaked internal memo from the Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations confirms that CBP officers were directed to vet anyone with Iranian background at the Peace Arch border earlier this month.
“CBP does not comment on leaked documents,” a CBP spokesperson told Peace Arch News Thursday, when asked for a response.
The memo was left inside a blank envelope at the office of Blaine-based immigration lawyer Len Saunders. Saunders provided the memo to PAN.
On Jan. 4, at least 60 Americans of Iranian background were reportedly detained at Peace Arch border for up to 16 hours while heading back to the U.S. from a concert in Vancouver. The detention came shortly after the Iranian government pledged retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
The memo, which was issued by the Seattle Field Office, directs front line officers to vet all people born between 1961 and 2001 with links to Iran, whether that be their nationality or they had recently travelled to the country. It also directs CBP to vet Palestinians and Lebanese people that have travelled to/from Israel and Jordan.
The memo includes details about a secondary procedure to seek connection to extremist ideology; links to terrorism; criminality or associates to criminality; deceptive behaviors; and military.
“Even if they are not SHIA faith, anyone can state they are Baha’i, please question further to determine this is the case. When in doubt send for high side checks,” the memo states.
Following news reports of Iranian-Americans being held up at the border, CBP issued a statement to PAN saying that “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 (Department of Homeland Security/CBP) has issued a related directive are also false.”
The statement included background, adding that “CBP does not discriminate based on religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”
While CBP told PAN Thursday it will not comment on leaked documents, it said the matter is under investigation.
“At no time did DHS/CBP issue a directive to deny entry to any individual,” a CBP official wrote to PAN.