British newlyweds spend 26 hours in airport detention ‘because the groom is Muslim’
Wednesday - 26/07/2017 06:59
A BRITISH newlywed couple arriving in the United States for their dream honeymoon claim they spent 26 hours in airport detention before being put on a plane back to London “because the groom is Muslim”.
Natasha Politakis, 29, and Ali Gul, 32, forked out $15,000 for a two-week trip to Los Angeles, Hawaii and Las Vegas, The Sun reports.
But the newlyweds of Enfield, North London, claim they were locked up inside an immigration detention at Los Angeles’ LAX airport for 26 hours upon touchdown in the US.
The couple, who said they were treated “like criminals”, say they were never told why they were refused entry but suspect it is because of Ali’s Turkish origin.
When they arrived in Los Angeles for the first day of their trip, which included later stops in Hawaii and Las Vegas, they were told they would need to be interviewed for five minutes — but were detained for more than a day before being flown back to England.
“I am in utter shock that this has happened,” Natasha said.
“We had just got married, we were on our way to our honeymoon as excited as anything and never expected that we would be deported.
“We were treated like criminals and we had all the relevant documentation and answered all their questions.
“It’s not okay to treat people like that.
“As far as we knew before we left everything was fine, but as soon as we got there they wouldn’t let us in.
“We believe since Trump was elected, they took one look at his name, thought he was Muslim and didn’t let him in.”
The couple claim they were refused a shower and had their possessions confiscated for the entire period of their detention and were only given their phones back once they were on UK soil.
They allege that when they tried to find out why they were detained, authorities handcuffed them before escorting them onto a flight back to London.
“As we were going through immigration in LA, they looked at our passports and asked us to go into a side room to answer some questions,” Natasha said.
“They stuck us in this detention centre in the airport, stripped us of all our possessions and didn’t let us shower, get a coffee or change our clothes for 26 hours.
“We had absolutely no idea what was going on. When I tried to find out they put handcuffs on us.
“After 26 hours they refused us entry into the country and escorted us onto the next flight home.
“They even told the air stewardess we weren’t allowed our phones back until we landed in the UK.
“Finally when we landed back in the UK on the May 24 we were allowed to speak to our families and they were in absolute hysterics having not heard from us in two days.”
The couple had two weddings earlier this year, a registrar wedding in April for Ali’s Turkish family and then a big church wedding with a reception at the Marriott on May 6.
Two weeks later they jetted off on their honeymoon and now have stamps in their visa stating they were “refused in accordance with INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] section 217”.
Ali, an estate agent, holds a British passport but his business partner attempted to apply for eight ESTAs — American tourist visas — for his bucks’ trip but all were rejected.
The pair have been left £7000 ($15,000) out of pocket for a honeymoon they were never allowed on and were told if they wanted to complain they would have to contact the US Embassy, but have struggled to get an appointment.
Natasha, who managed to book a last minute holiday to Mexico, said: “We’re trying to get the money back through our insurance but it never should have happened in the first place.
“All we want is answers as to why our entire trip was ruined.”
A US embassy spokesman told Sun Online: “US Customs and Border Protection welcomes more than a million passengers arriving to the United States every day.
“The religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs of an international traveller are not determining factors about his/her admissibility into the US.
“Under US immigration law applicants for admission bear the burden of proof to establish that they are clearly eligible to enter the United States.
“In order to demonstrate that they are admissible, the applicant must overcome ALL grounds of inadmissibility.
“Specific grounds of inadmissibility can be found in INA section 212(a) and list more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility divided into several major categories, including health-related, prior criminal convictions, security reasons, public charge, labour certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.