“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,” a CBP spokesperson said in statement. “Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”

A CBP official with knowledge of the situation explained that, based on the “current threat environment,” the agency 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.”

CAIR said those with links to Iran had their passports confiscated, were asked about their political views and allegiances, and what they studied in college.

“These reports are extremely troubling and potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens,” Masih Fouladi, executive director of CAIR Washington, said in a statement. “We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry, so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance.”

Zabihian, who works in healthcare information technology in Issaquah, Washington, says a large number of Iranian-Americans were held at the Blaine border.

“Amongst us anxiously waiting were children and pregnant women,” she said, adding that the facility had only one bathroom for everyone to share. “There wasn’t enough seats for everyone so some were sitting on the ground.”

The border officers were “understanding of this horrible situation,” Zabihian reiterated, and emphasized that CBP staff “did their best to address the sheer volume of Iranian-born US citizens that were being detained.”

Still, she said, “US citizens should not have been subjected to this regardless of where they were born.”

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