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Trump's first victim? Jordanian humiliated, deported at US airport Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Trump's first victim? Jordanian humiliated, deported at US airport

Hammad Sheva agreed to withdraw his visa application to avoid a 5-year ban [Facebook/Hammad Sheva]

Date of publication: 13 December, 2015

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A Jordanian national with a valid Visa was turned back at a US airport after being interrogated and detained, days after Donald Trump's call for banning Muslims from entering US.

Hammad Sheva, a 26-year-old Jordanian architect, said he was treated so badly at a US airport upon arrival, that he will not consider visiting the US again any time soon.

On 7 December, he wrote on his Facebook page that he had left for the US from Amman on a B1/B2 US visa issued by the US embassy in Amman.

When he arrived in Chicago, he was escorted to an interrogation room. His mobile phone was taken from him and he was forced to disclose his passwords.

Officers at the airport proceeded to interrogate him aggressively for five hours, as though he were a terrorist suspect. They questioned the purpose of his visit without any basis, he said, despite him having visited the US before.

Hammad said they went through his private messages and data against his will.

At the end of his interrogation, he was given two options: Either agree to withdraw his visa application and return to Jordan, or let the border authorities decline his entry and get banned from entering the US for 5 years. Hammad said he chose the first option to avoid the ban.

Hammad was then placed in a 3x4 metre holding cell until a return flight was scheduled.

He wrote: "...a steel toilet was in room as well, the room was underground so I didn't know the time or if its day or night, and didn't know what's going to happen [Sic]."

In the late afternoon on the following day, Hammad explained that he was escorted by two officers at the airport, which he said made him feel humiliated.

He was put on a plane but the crew were told not to give him his passport back until they had arrived in London.

An act of discrimination

Hammad insisted this was an act of discrimination, saying most of the other people who were questioned with him were Muslims, including one from Montenegro who was with him in the interrogation room.

"They made some racist...comments many times during the interrogation!" he wrote on Facebook.

"I felt helpless, I felt abused, I felt oppressed and not human. I really wouldn't wish this to my worst enemy."

Hammad told al-Araby al-Jadeed the border officers could have become suspicious because he was returning to the US only 3 months after leaving, but stressed this was no excuse to treat him the way he was treated.

He said the officers took snaps from his chat records and twisted them out of context to claim he was there to work illegally.

"I don't have any explanation of why he did what he did, some want to believe racist act or he just didn't like me," he told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Hammad's options are limited. Having a visa to the US does not guarantee entry, and it is within the powers of border officials to turn people back at their discretion.

However, it is possible some of his rights were violated during his ordeal. "I don't know what I can do, but I emailed a lawyer there to see if I can sue them," says Hammad.

Later, Hammad wrote on his Facebook page that many Americans had contacted him to express their support, criticising their government and "racist" officers.

"If we start generalising all Americans to be like trump, then you can't blame anyone to say all Islam is ISIS," he wrote, in reference to the controversial Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and the terrorist group Islamic State respectively.

Last week, Donald Trump announced he would seek a blanket ban on all Muslims entering the US if elected.

It would seem that Trump has many supporters among the men and women of the US border authorities.

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