Newly married British citizens Ali Gul and Natasha Politakis allege that they were denied entry into the United States upon landing at LAX International Airport in Los Angeles.
Their extravagant honeymoon was stopped before it even started, and The Guardian speculates that President Donald Trump's travel ban may have been a factor.
Upon arrival, Gul was stopped by U.S. border officials. He and Politakis were held in detention for a total of 26 hours.
“It was for no reason,” Politakis told reporters. “We tried to talk to the embassy but they said just go on the website and there was no explanation there. We had visas, we had everything. We were treated like criminals.”
“It’s a long time, and it feels like forever when you are in there," she continued. "No one tells you anything and then they said to us: ‘You’re not going to Hawaii, you’re going to be flown back on the first flight tomorrow.’ They escorted us on to the flight. They wouldn’t give us our phones or our passports until we were back in the UK.”
The exact reason why they were detained remains a mystery, as both had valid visas and passports. However, The Guardian points out that Gul, though traveling on a British passport, was born in Turkey and had run into problems when applying for a visa for a previous trip. His earlier application had been turned down by Esta, the usual way for hopeful travelers to apply for a 90-day visa to the U.S., but the reason why was not reported on. He had reapplied through the U.S. Embassy in London and received a visa valid for 10 years.
While people are denied entry in the U.S. for a multitude of reasons, the current administration's travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations looms over unclarified cases, such as Gul's and Politakis'. British citizens face hurdles when coming to the U.S. if they have traveled to any of the six countries listed on the ban since March 2011: Syria, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Yemen.
After authorities sent them home, the couple decided that they weren't giving up on their honeymoon, but the need to change destinations went without saying. The pair have decided to travel to Mexico instead, and they have postponed their dream of visiting the U.S. until the government is a friendlier one.
"I’m too scared now, after what happened," Politakis said. "We’ve traveled to so many countries together. Neither of us have ever been to America before. This was the first time we were going, for our honeymoon, and then all this happened."
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Mike Blake