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British PM to ‘Look Into’ US Denial of Entry to British Muslims

FILE - Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in London. Cameron's office has vowed to 'look into' the case of a British Muslim family being denied entry to the US.
FILE - Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in London. Cameron's office has vowed to 'look into' the case of a British Muslim family being denied entry to the US.

British Prime Minister David Cameron's office says he will "look into" the cases of British Muslims who were denied permission at the last minute to fly to the United States.

The Prime Minister's statement Wednesday stemmed from a complaint made by a British lawmaker on behalf of a family in her constituency, who were denied permission to travel to southern California on December 15. A member of the family of 11 says they were forced to forfeit the value of $13,000 in airfare because they were banned from boarding their plane.

A U.S. government source told Britain's Sky News that one man in the family had been deemed as prohibited from flying, but all 11 were banned because they had booked their tickets together.

British Parliament member Stella Creasy, who represents northeast London, says she is concerned that a growing number of British Muslim families are being denied entry to the United States with no reason given.

A spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection told VOA religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs of an international traveler are not determining factors about admissibility into the county.

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act lists more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility divided into several major categories, including health-related, prior criminal convictions, public charge, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds, the spokesman said.

U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump raised international ire earlier this year when he proposed a ban on Muslims traveling to the United States, in response to a mass shooting in California in November. He said "at this time there is a Muslim problem in the world."

Prime Minister Cameron called those remarks "divisive and wrong."

Creasy, the lawmaker, said in her letter to Cameron that a family party of 11 people, a father, his nine children, and his brother, were approached at Gatwick airport and told they could not board their flight to the United States on December 15.

Mahmood Tariq Mahmood, who was traveling with his brother and his brother's children to visit family in southern California, told The Guardian newspaper he believes his family was denied entry to the U.S. because they are Muslim. He said, "It is because of the attacks on America, they think every Muslim poses a threat."

Creasy said she has been in touch with at least one other constituent who was denied entry to the U.S. without a clear reason. And she said she has hit a "brick wall" in her efforts to get answers from the U.S. embassy in London.

Mahmood told reporters his family had been approached by U.S. government officials at London's Gatwick Airport and told they could not board their Norwegian Airlines flight. He said they will not be refunded for their tickets and were also forced to return items they had purchased at the airport's duty-free stores. He said he fears they will not be allowed to visit their family in California in the future.

The family had been granted permission to visit the United States under the Visa Waiver program, which authorizes travel for up to 90 days without a visa.

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