A second U.S. visa holder was denied entry to the U.S. over a message he had received, TechCrunch reported Monday. After Customs and Border Protection officials detained and questioned him for more than 15 hours, Dakhil, a Muslim and Pakistani national whose name was changed to protect his identity, was sent to Pakistan and banned from entering the U.S. for five years.
He had never been in the U.S. before and had come to Houston, Texas to see his cousin about nine months ago. His plans were to visit Disney World in Florida and New York City with his wife and baby, who had not yet received visas. CBP then said the agency would deny their visas well. Last week, CBP allegedly denied the visa of Palestinian Harvard freshman Ismail Ajjawi over online posts made by his friends.
Dakhil, who had a B1/B2 visa for the trip, said he was asked a wide range of questions by CBP officers, including about alleged plans to work at his cousin’s gas station.
“I told him I had no intention to work,” he told TechCrunch. “I’m quite happy back in Karachi and doing good financially,” he added.
Officers then asked about a graphic 2009 photo of a murdered child that has been widely circulated online. He had been forwarded the image on a WhatsApp group from a friend he met during his 2011 Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Dakhil explained that the message was intended to warn parents about kidnappings and violence in Karachi, Pakistan.
“He described it as one of those viral messages that you forward to your friends and family to warn parents about the dangers to their children,” according to TechCrunch.
According to a report from the Department of Homeland Security, which Dakhil obtained, Dakhil claimed during the interrogation that he “is not involved in any of the above things and isn’t part of any terrorist group or organizations.” To be clear, the “above things” refer to what the photo allegedly warned against, such as child murder. This explanation does seem to match with the idea that his friend would want to send him a message to help him avoid violence.
A spokesperson for CBP said: “CBP is responsible for ensuring the safety and admissibility of the goods and people entering the United States. Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the U.S. by overcoming all grounds of inadmissibility including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds.”
“I was treated like a criminal,” Dakhil said. “They made my life miserable.”