Leicester

Business trip man 'deported from US because of skin colour'

Amreet Surana
Image caption Amreet Surana said US immigration officials made him feel like a criminal

A man on a business trip to the US says he was held for 13 hours "with little food or water" then thrown out of the country because of his skin colour.

Amreet Surana, who works for a UK security company, was held in Detroit while trying to catch a connecting flight to the firm's branch in Arizona.

He said officials treated him "like dirt" then concluded he was an "illegal immigrant denying a US citizen a job".

US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) denied racially profiling Mr Surana.

The 24-year-old, who resides in Thurmaston, Leicestershire, travelled to the US as a temporary business visitor, which allows citizens to stay in the country for "90 days or less" for tourism or business.

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Travellers in this category must have valid clearance through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), which allows citizens of 38 countries, including most of Europe, to travel to the US without a visa.

Mr Surana estimates he spends "about three months a year" in the country while staying at his boss's house in Arizona.

He told the BBC his ESTA "has been revoked for five years" - something he intends to appeal against with his lawyers.

Mr Surana said he was stopped when he landed at Detroit Airport from London Heathrow on 17 January and then sent to be interviewed by immigration officials.

He said he told them he worked as an international business manager for Nottingham-based Octavian, and was visiting its US branch in Phoenix.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption US Customs and Border Protection denied it had "racially profiled" Mr Surana

"In the space of 20 minutes they concluded that I was an illegal immigrant working in America, denying a US citizen a job," Mr Surana said.

"I was threatened with fraud, I was threatened with banishment from the USA and imprisonment. You feel dehumanised to the extent that you feel like a piece of dirt on the floor."

He said he was then held for 13 hours, during which time his photograph and fingerprints were taken, and his belongings searched.

He was allowed to sleep in an unused interview room, he said, but was given little food or water.

'Wish this on nobody'

"The whole experience was traumatic, frightening, embarrassing, stressing and haunting for me and my family," he said.

"I have never had a criminal record. I have an education and an international executive job.

"I wish this on nobody. I believe I was profiled because of my appearance."

The CBP did not give the specific reason for deporting Mr Surana from the US, but said an approved ESTA visa did not guarantee a traveller would pass border checks.

"CBP firmly denies any claims that a traveller can be subject to an admissibility interview because of racial profiling," it said.

"CBP is charged with inspecting all travellers regardless of nationality, race, sex, religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs. Accusations of lengthy detentions by CBP are also incorrect.

"CBP officers offer food and water before boarding a return flight within eight hours of the traveller's arrival into the United States."

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