Sudanese-born Australian author, TV host and one of the country’s prominent Muslim activists, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, was reportedly detained and then eventually deported from the United States.
The activist arrived at an airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was due to speak at the PEN America World Voices Festival in New York next week. However, shortly after her arrival, border agents reportedly detained her and confiscated her Australian passport.
After being detained at the airport for three hours, Customs and Border Patrol agents put her on a flight to Amsterdam.
According to Isabella Kwai, New York Times reporter who spoke to Abdel-Magiedd, the activist was denied entry into the United States citing her visa. She has the B1/B2 visa, which agents said “was the wrong visa for speakers, although she’s entered on it before to speak at events.”
Interesting facts: within a few min of looking at my case the border security person - Officer Herberg looking at my case she announces: ‘we’re sending you back!’— Yassmin Abdel-Magied (@yassmin_a) April 12, 2018
The activists announced the news of her deportation in a series of tweets.
“Roughly three hours since touchdown in Minneapolis, I’m on a plane back. Subhanallah. Well, guess that tightening of immigration laws business is working, despite my Australian passport. We’re taking off now. What a time...,” she said in a tweet.
She added, “They’ve taken my phone, cancelled my visa and are deporting me. Will follow up on messages once I understand what’s going on.”
A spokesperson for Customs and Border Patrol confirmed her deportation and added she is eligible to reapply for future visits.
“She did not possess the appropriate visa to receive monetary compensation for the speaking engagements she had planned during her visit to the United States. She was deemed inadmissible to enter the United States for her visit, but was allowed to withdraw her application for admission,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Abdel-Magied was due to speak on a panel titled “The M Word: No country for young Muslim women” in New York City.
Festival organizers also released a statement.
“We are dismayed that an invited guest to our annual PEN World Voices Festival in New York ... was turned away by US Immigration officials in Minneapolis, reportedly had her phone and passport seized, and was put back on a plane to Amsterdam. Abdel-Magied is an advocate of the rights of Muslim women and refugees and is a citizen of Australia, traveling on that country’s passport,” read the statement.
The statement further said, “The very purpose of the PEN World Voices Festival, founded after 9/11 to sustain the connectedness between the U.S. and the wider world, is in jeopardy at a time when efforts at visa bans and tightened immigration restrictions threaten to choke off vital channels of dialogue that are protected under the First Amendment right to receive and impart information through in-person cultural exchange.”
Abdel-Magied and her family arrived in Australia when she was two and since then she has devoted her extraordinary energy and talent to make Australia a better place for Muslims. She founded Youth Without Borders, an organization that enables young people to work together to implement positive change within their communities and internationally.
A similar incident took place last year, when just days after Trump took office and rolled out a travel ban, Abdel-Magied became a victim of the ban.
She was all set to go on a planned tour to the U.S. where she was supposed to speak about a range of topics including multiculturalism. However, she was denied entry.
.@yassmin_a is a smart, successful, opinionated Muslim woman from Australia who was just refused entry to U.S. She was here for this week's @PENamerican World Voices Festival to speak on the panel - wait for it - "No Country for Young Muslim Woman." Yup. https://t.co/SYeqhVffGX— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) April 12, 2018
The Sudanese-Australian writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who was scheduled to appear at @PENworldvoices festival in New York, was deported. She was to speak on a panel called "The M Word: No Country for Young Muslim Women." US authorities, it appears, were eager to prove this right. https://t.co/1Zrl3HTqzN— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) April 12, 2018
So many questions about this. She has an Australian passport, and even her country of birth (Sudan) is not on the updated list for Trump's travel ban. So why? https://t.co/zzZSWY1Iev— Josephine Tovey (@Jo_Tovey) April 12, 2018
Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Eduardo Munoz