SHAFAQNA- A British Indian man who had flown to the US for a business trip was held at an American airport for 13 hours and deported “because of the color of his skin.”
Amreet Surana, who works for a UK security company, was held at an airport in Detroit, Michigan, while trying to board a connecting flight to the firm’s branch in Phoenix, Arizona.
Surana, 24, said he was stopped when he landed at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport from London Heathrow Airport on January 17 and then sent to be interviewed by immigration officials.
He told the BBC that US immigration officers treated him “like dirt,” then concluded he was an “illegal immigrant denying a US citizen a job.”
“I was threatened with fraud, I was threatened with banishment from the USA and imprisonment. You feel dehumanized to the extent that you feel like a piece of dirt on the floor,” he said.
Surana, who resides in Thurmaston, Leicestershire, traveled to the US as a temporary business visitor. As a British citizen, he was allowed to travel to the US without a visa and stay for up to 90 days.
Citizens of 38 countries, including most of Europe, can travel to the US on a visa waiver program.
“The whole experience was traumatic, frightening, embarrassing, stressing and haunting for me and my family,” Surana said.
“I have never had a criminal record. I have an education and an international executive job,” he added. “I wish this on nobody. I believe I was profiled because of my appearance.”
The US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agency denied racially profiling Surana. It, however, failed to confirm why he was refused entry to the US.
“CBP firmly denies any claims that a traveler can be subject to an admissibility interview because of racial profiling,” the agency said in a statement.
“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,” it added.
The case comes after Mohammad Tariq Mahmood of London, his brother and their children, said they were stopped at the departure gate at Gatwick Airport and told their visas to the US had been revoked.
Last month, Ajmal Masroor, who claims he has preached against extremism and has previously traveled to the US, was also prevented from boarding a flight to the US in similar circumstances to Mahmood.