Abe Dabdoub has never been arrested. He has been issued only one traffic ticket.

Last year, the Toledo-area resident was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.

Yet since last August, U.S. agents have detained Dabdoub 17 times at the Canadian border. He’s been handcuffed, frisked, fingerprinted, interrogated and held for up to four hours. His wife has been subjected to similar procedures when she and their two young children have crossed the border.

Dabdoub, 39, who was born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents, and his Chicago-born wife Amanda hold dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. They regularly travel to Windsor, Ontario, to visit relatives and, until last summer, crossed the border without incident.

The engineer spoke about his experiences to about 150 people attending a forum Sunday night on detentions at the U.S.-Canadian border. The Rights Working Group’s “Liberty and Justice for All” campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), among others, sponsored the event.

Since Sept. 11, amid fears of another terrorist attack, Muslims, South Asians and the Arab community have had to fight for their rights, said Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, who also spoke at the forum. Last year, the ACLU filed suit in Chicago federal court on behalf of nine Muslims and Arab-Americans who, the lawyer said, have been victims of dehumanizing treatment and punitive detentions at the border. . .

Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland office of CAIR, recently won a partial victory when she sued under the Freedom of Information Act to see documents about her 3-1/2 hour detention last year at the Canadian border at Buffalo. While traveling with her 4-year-old daughter, Shearson was “hauled away in handcuffs” and separated from her child, she says.

The judge ordered release of most of the documents about the detention, although major sections were edited out. Shearson is continuing to litigate for the remainder of the information.


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