Scores of U.S. citizens who are of Arab descent or Muslim are being detained and harassed at the border when trying to re-enter the country, a civil rights lawyer said Sunday at a community forum.

“We’ve been to Boston, Buffalo, Detroit and Seattle and we hear this story over and over again,” said Harvey Grossman, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

His office filed a civil rights lawsuit last year in Chicago on behalf of 10 Muslim and Arab-Americans repeatedly detained at the border, including one man who was handcuffed and shackled to a chair for nearly three hours.

Grossman interviewed people at Sunday’s forum at the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services in Cleveland and said more names may be added to the lawsuit, he said.

Many of the 150 people in the audience gasped when Abe Dabdoub told them he and/or his wife have been detained 17 times. The Toledo-area engineer and his wife, both U.S. citizens, travel to Canada frequently to visit relatives.

“We keep getting detained and no one will tell me why,” said Dabdoub, who details each stop on a spread sheet.

In an effort to deal with border-crossing complaints, the government in February instituted the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. It has been getting 600 to 800 complaints a week, the New York Times reported Sunday.


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