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Tue Jan 14, 2020, 02:00 PM

Editorial: Detention of Iranian-Americans at border troubling

We are not that many decades removed from the internment camps where American citizens — naturalized and birthright — of Japanese descent were rounded up and detained between 1942 and 1945.

More than 111,700 people, the large majority American citizens or legal residents, were torn from their homes, their businesses, their schools, their places of worship and their communities and sent to live in desolate camps in Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas, California and Idaho, waiting out the duration of the war. Their detention in these camps — deemed necessary for the nation’s security — was rooted in suspicion and fear based on where they or their ancestors were born and with no recognition of the oath — similar to the one above now in use — that most had made when they became American citizens.

The detentions of naturalized American citizens of Iranian descent earlier this month at the Peace Arch border crossing at Blaine were mercifully shorter — between three and 12 hours — but the fear and unwarranted suspicions were little different from those of 75 years earlier and no less concerning.

Operating under what the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service would later call “an enhanced security posture at U.S. ports of entry” following increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran, including a drone attack that killed an Iranian military leader in Iraq, more than 60 Iranian-Americans and Iranians in the country legally reported being detained and questioned in secondary holding when they attempted to return to the U.S. from Canada; most had attended a Iranian pop concert in Vancouver, B.C., that day, and were on their way home. To their country.


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