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Iranian-Born British Journalist Stopped From Boarding Flight to U.S.

BBC journalist claims she was denied boarding on flight to United States over Iranian heritage.

A British journalist born in Iran is joining the voices criticizing American foreign policy, claiming she was denied entry into the United States over her heritage. The New York Times reports BBC Persian Service journalist Rana Rahimpour was blocked from her flight on January 19 under a recent change to the visa waiver program.

In December, changes to the U.S. visa waiver program were signed into law after clearing both the House of Representatives and Senate in less than two weeks. Under the new law, those who either hold citizenship in Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan or have visited the nations within the last five years must apply for a visa prior to entering the United States and cannot use the visa waiver program. The program also extends to those who hold dual citizenships.

Rahimpour was born in Iran but currently works for the BBC in London. Prior to her January 19 flight to the United States, the journalist says she contacted the U.S. embassy in London to make sure she could travel under the waiver program, but they could not confirm if the visa waiver policy changes had been implemented yet.

Believing the visa waiver program changes would not go into effect until April, Rahimpour continued with her trip. However, prior to boarding her flight, the journalist claimed on Twitter that she and three other British citizens, including her daughter, were blocked from the flight due to their Iranian heritage.

“To be treated differently from other British citizens because of my Iranian heritage is very distressing,” Rahimpour told the New York Times. “I can’t fathom how this helps U.S. security not to mention its image among the Iranian public.”

A post on the State Department website deferred changes to the visa waiver program to the Department of Homeland Security, which has not yet updated their website. Rahimpour is the second public figure to decry American immigration policies this year. Earlier in January, an Australian politician claimed she was “racially profiled” due to her Pakistani heritage.

[Photo: Facebook]

Comments are Closed.
weero January 24, 2016

She does have a British passport that gave her access to North American travel under earlier agreements. The US unilaterally reneged their part of the visa-free travel agreement. First with ESTA now with this. But the EU has no balls to push back against the US. Russia doesn't care, China only worries about business ... so the isolation spiral keeps turning without ever slowing down.

AlwaysFlyStar January 22, 2016

@KoKoBuddy, because America should obviously not be expected to be better than Middle Eastern countries?

alphaod January 22, 2016

I always go and get a visa, unless they tell me otherwise. Online is full of of misinformation.

KoKoBuddy January 22, 2016

This common sense policy gets people all riled up. But the fact that every Arab country bans entry to anyone who dared visit Israel (and has a stamp on their passport), meh, no biggie. Spare me the tears.

Lakeviewsteve January 22, 2016

Did I miss something? She still could have applied for a VISA to be on the safe side. This would have allowed for a proper background check before granting permission. If an American went to Iran without a visa they would probably be put in prison.