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Australian Official Claims She Was Subject to Racial Profiling at LAX

Australian politician says she was detained and questioned on her passport after arriving in Los Angeles.

An Australian politician is decrying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for racial profiling after claiming she was detained upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) regarding her passport. The Guardian reports politician Mehreen Faruqi is speaking out about her experience, calling the ordeal “ridiculous” and “heart-wrenching.”

Faruqi was traveling to the United States with her husband to meet with drug law reform leaders in California and Oregon. Originally from Pakistan, Faruqi has been an Australian citizen for over 20 years and was traveling with an Australian passport. However, her troubles began once she arrived at U.S. Customs.

According to Faruqi, both she and her husband were asked how they acquired Australian passports. When she stated she was an Australian citizen, Faruqi says they were held for over an hour and were interrogated separately. During this time, Farqui says she was asked about her Pakistani heritage, including if she still held a Pakistani passport, if she had been to the country recently and her activities while there.

“To be asked how I got an Australian passport is ridiculous on one level and heart-wrenching at another,” Faruqi told The Guardian. “You don’t expect it, you know you haven’t done anything. It’s a little bit embarrassing.”

Ultimately, Faruqi was allowed to enter the United States, but claims she was the victim of racial profiling by Customs officials. Because of her Pakistani roots, Faruqi says she was unfairly treated by Customs officials.

“I know that people are treated this way every day,” Faruqi told The Guardian. “The concern for me is that the political debate about racism and Islamophobia is at a very low level at the moment and it feeds into this sort of thing.”

Faruqi’s incident is the second time a public personality has spoken out about Customs at LAX. In December 2015, Korean girl group Oh My Girl claims they were prevented from entering the country because they were confused for prostitutes, while Customs officials claimed they did not have the proper visas.

[Photo: Chris James/AAP]

Comments are Closed.
Jo145 January 22, 2016

Lakeviewsteve - yes we do have to complete an online Visa application and fork over $14. Then we wait in a queue for 90 minute onlys to be questioned by an immigration officer as we have not completed the online Visa application. I too wonder what they do with the online information ... I also wonder why there is only ever 5 booths open in Immigration at JFK or Newark no matter how many planes are arriving and no matter what the time of day. I'm sure Australia has its problems too and it all needs improvement. Immigration officials need to start acknowledging they are dealing with humans (many of whom have sitting in a plane for 15+ hours) and not just pieces of paper.

yugi January 22, 2016

So she've got an Australian passport. So what? It doesn't change anything,it's just a piece of paper, which Australian government gave her. It doesn't change anything at all. CBP was right.

darek1956 January 22, 2016

Good job TSA.

Mike Maks January 21, 2016

So what is the issue here? Nothing, except for an attention-seeking fool. Funny how she and her ilk 'have the time" to be interviewed by the media, but always appear so, so busy otherwise...

N1120A January 19, 2016

Profiling based on national origin/ethnicity/religion is an illegal, bigoted and ineffective manner of threat assessment. This lady is a member of the Australian parliament. She is well dressed, has an approved ESTA and probably had an official passport that they didn't ask for. She is traveling with her, also an Austrlian Citizen, husband. SOOOOO Dangerous. Indeed, back when I would still have to chat with CBP, one of the first things I used to be asked is what I did for a living. Did they not ask her? How do you not look into that before being an idiot and assuming they have a fake passport? Seriously - this could be considered a very serious diplomatic incident.