Controversial TV personality and Australian author Yassmin Abdel-Magied has claimed on social media she has been deported from the US.
Abdel-Magied, who is due to host Hijabistas! with Yassmin Abdel-Magied on the ABC’s iView in May, a series which explores Islamic headwear fashion in Australia, was in the US to appear at a New York festival panel titled “The M Word: No Country for young Muslim Women”.
Writing on Twitter, she said: “If they will let me in. I’m currently at the border and they’ve said I’m being deported. This should be fun. What are my rights?”
She said border authorities took her phone and cancelled her visa.
“Roughly three hours since touch down 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 tweeted.
Abdel-Magied said border authorities held onto her passport.
“Apparently I can’t be trusted with it until I’m a foreign country, because, as Officer Blees said, ‘planes get turned away back way too often and then…” she tweeted.
She also claimed they held onto her phone for the whole time.
“Fortunately I’m a paranoid person – notifications don’t show previews of messages, and a 12 digit passcode. Always be vigilant, yo.”
Abdel-Magied was due to speak at a PEN World Voices Festival in New York.
PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement: “We are dismayed that an invited guest to our annual PEN World Voices Festival in New York, which starts on Monday, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, herself the founder of an organisation called Youth Without Borders, 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, travelling on that country’s passport. The very purpose of the PEN World Voices Festival, founded after 9/11 to sustain the connectedness between the US 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. We understand that Yassmin was travelling on a type of visa that she had used in the past for similar trips without issue.
“We call on Customs and Border Patrol to admit her to the U.S. so that she can take her rightful place in the urgent international conversation to take place at the Festival next week.”
US Customs and Border Protection have confirmed to nine.com.au Abdel-Magied was refused entry, clarifying it was because she did not have the appropriate working visa.
“All travelers arriving to the United States must possess valid travel documents for their purpose of travel. For foreign nationals, this includes a current passport and a valid visa or visa waiver issued by the US Government,” the statement said.
“It is important to note that issuance of a visa or a visa waiver does not guarantee entry to the United States. A CBP officer at the port of entry will conduct an inspection to determine if the individual is eligible for admission under US immigration law and possesses valid documents for their purpose of travel.
“During the inspection, CBP officers determined this individual did not possess the appropriate visa to receive monetary compensation for the speaking engagements she had planned during her visit to the United States. As such, she was deemed inadmissible to enter the United States for her visit, but was allowed to withdraw her application for admission. The traveller is eligible to reapply for a visa for future visits.”
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson told nine.com.au: “We are aware of reports that an Australian has been refused entry to the United States. Like Australia, the United States administers a strict entry regime. The decision on who can enter the United States is a matter solely for the US Government.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stands ready to offer consular assistance to any Australian citizen should they request it. Owing to privacy considerations we will not provide further comment.”
Sudanese-born Abdel-Magied is a mechanical engineer and founded the Youth Without Borders organisation and was named the 2007 young Australian Muslim of the Year.
She attracted controversy in Australia over a Tweet on Anzac Day comparing attitudes towards the Anzac legend with Australian and international policies towards refugees. The attacks from media and the public resulted in Abdel-Magied moving to the UK.
She is currently based in London.