‘Like piece of dirt’: Briton on business trip ‘deported and racially profiled’ by US officials
Amreet Surana, 24, was stopped in Detroit Airport while trying to catch a connecting flight to Arizona on January 17.
The international business manager, who was visiting his firm’s US branch, was then sent to be interviewed by immigration officials who concluded that he was “an illegal immigrant denying a US citizen job.”
He claims he was treated “like dirt” and held for 13 hours with “little food or water” after officials took his photograph and fingerprints.
Surana said he informed the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) that he had the correct Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form, which allows the citizens of 38 countries, including most of Europe, to travel to the US without a visa.
However, the businessman said CPB concluded that he was an illegal immigrant within 20 minutes.
“In the space of 20 minutes they concluded that I was an illegal immigrant working in America, denying a US citizen a job,” he told BBC News on Wednesday.
“I was threatened with fraud, I was threatened with banishment from the USA and imprisonment. You feel dehumanised to the extent that you feel like a piece of dirt on the floor,” he added.
“The whole experience was traumatic, frightening, embarrassing, stressing and haunting for me and my family. I wish this on nobody. I believe I was profiled because of my appearance.”
In response to his comments, CPB denied racially profiling Surana, saying his allegations are “incorrect.”
“CBP firmly denies any claims that a traveler can be subject to an admissibility interview because of racial profiling. CBP is charged with inspecting all travelers regardless of nationality, race, sex, religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs. Accusations of lengthy detentions by CBP are also incorrect,” they told the Independent.
This comes weeks after a British family of 11 was stopped from visiting Disneyland in Los Angeles.
Mohammed Tariq Mahmood, from Walthamstow, London, was preparing to board a flight with his brother and nine of their children on December 15, but officials from US Homeland Security stopped them as they queued in the departure lounge at Gatwick Airport.
Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy wrote to Cameron asking why the family had been stopped.
“If the embassy won’t answer to the family’s MP, it should answer to their prime minister and he to us about what he is doing to ensure that no British citizen is being discriminated against for their faith on our shores,” she wrote in the Guardian.
Creasy said she is concerned about the growing number of British Muslims being stopped from entering the US for no apparent reason.
In December, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for a halt to Muslims entering the US until authorities could “figure out what’s going on” in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
Creasy fears many UK Muslims are being “Trumped.”
“Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear that UK Muslims are being ‘Trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” she said.