Mercy dash family denied entry to US

Mercy dash family denied entry to US

AN AUSTRALIAN family on a mercy dash to a dying relative in the United States were detained without food or water before being sent to a detention centre and forced to spend the night with criminal suspects. Their ordeal finished with them being deported.

Mr Fazle Rabbi, his wife, Rokeya, and their two sons, Rakin, 14, and Raiyan, 8, left Sydney on Tuesday, January 13 to visit Mr Rabbi’s ailing 84-year-old father in Los Angeles.

However, instead of the emotional reunion they expected, the family was detained at Los Angeles International Airport by US Customs and Border Protection officers.

Over the next 24 hours, officers questioned the Thornleigh taxi driver and his aged-care worker wife, patted them down and searched their luggage before sending them to a detention centre in a caged van. They were then taken to a hotel with other detainees at 2.30am to sleep with armed guards by their bedside before being woken at 4.30am and put on a flight back to Sydney.

Despite being Australian citizens and having valid visas to enter the US, the family members claim they were singled out because of their cultural background, having immigrated from Bangladesh four years ago.

“They treated us like terrorists,” Mr Rabbi said. “We are Australian citizens. Why did they have to keep us in a detention centre? Why did they have to lock up my kids?”

Mr Rabbi says that when he explained he was in the US to visit his father, the officers threatened him.

Despite producing the family’s $6400 return tickets, dated February 5, he says the officers accused him of attempting to illegally stay in the US.

“They were very angry,” he said.

“They threatened us and they said if you keep talking like that you’ll be in big, big trouble.”

The family, tired and hungry after their 18-hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles via Melbourne, were given minimal food and drink during their time at the airport.

“We were given no food, apart from a few biscuits,” Mr Rabbi said.

A request to meet Mr Rabbi’s father, whom he has not seen for three years, was also denied.

“I told them that this is probably the last time I can see him before he dies,” he said. “They did not listen to me. They said, ‘You must go back to your country.’ “

A spokeswoman for the US consulate-general in Sydney said US Customs and Border Protection authorities reserved the right to refuse entry to the US.

original source

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