January 6, 2020
CREW requested records from the Department of Homeland Security on any directives concerning the screening, vetting, interrogation, questioning, or detention of individuals of Iranian national origin or perceived ties to Iran entering the US.
On January 3, 2020, President Trump announced that the US had killed a high-level Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Two days later, the media and advocacy groups reported that DHS had ramped up security measures at the US-Canada border following the announcement that the Iranian government sought retaliation for Soleimani’s killing. Those reports showed that more than 60 Iranian or Iranian American travelers were detained for additional questioning over the weekend. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reportedly informed the Council on American-Islamic Relations that DHS had issued a national order to report or detain anyone of Iranian heritage and entering the country “deemed potentially suspicious or ‘adversarial,’” regardless of citizenship.
These records would shed light on whether DHS has in fact adopted a directive to target individuals, including US citizens, for additional screening based on their Iranian national origin. Because such a directive may itself be unlawful or could result in the widespread unlawful detention of Iranian-Americans, there is compelling public interest in the requested records. Given the urgent need for this information, CREW has requested that DHS expedite its request.