Iranian Americans Describe Ordeal of Detention at U.S.-Canada Border

Nation/World
Negah Hekmati, a 38-year-old U.S. citizen born in Iran, speaks on Jan. 6, 2020, after she says her family was held and questioned by immigration officials at the U.S.-Canada border near Vancouver. (Credit: Richard Read / Los Angeles Times)

Negah Hekmati, a 38-year-old U.S. citizen born in Iran, speaks on Jan. 6, 2020, after she says her family was held and questioned by immigration officials at the U.S.-Canada border near Vancouver. (Credit: Richard Read / Los Angeles Times)

Even as federal officials continued to deny that Iranian Americans had been stopped at the border, more Iranian-born people have come forward with accounts of having been detained and questioned, and a growing chorus of officials and civil rights advocates in Washington state came to their defense on Monday.

Negah Hekmati, her husband and their two children arrived at the U.S.-Canada border late Saturday after a ski trip, planning to return to Washington state as they had many times before.

The four U.S. citizens carried Nexus cards, showing they’d been prescreened by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for expedited processing. What they received, Hekmati said, was anything but.

When immigration officers determined that she and her husband were born in Iran, they told them to park their car and bring their children into a room where others with Iranian heritage were also being held. The 38-year-old interior decorator and her husband, a Microsoft engineer, were subjected to intensive questioning during a five-hour overnight ordeal, she told reporters in Seattle on Monday.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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