A British Muslim teacher was left feeling “like a criminal” after he was banned from travelling to the US while on a school trip.
Juhel Miah was travelling with a group of pupils and colleagues from Llangatwg Comprehensive in Port Talbot when the incident happened last week.
The 25-year-old was removed from the aircraft in Reykjavik, Iceland, and said his luggage was taken from him and he was forced to stay in a “horrendous hotel”.
Miah is yet to be told why he was denied entry into the US. His removal from the flight comes after Donald Trump imposed a 120-day ban on refugees entering the US and a 90-day ban for most citizens of Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen on January 27. The order also indefinitely barred any Syrians from entering the country.
The executive order was overturned by a federal court judge less than a week later before Trump appealed, and lost, a challenge to have the Muslim travel ban reinstated. He later suggested he would introduce further measures to tighten border controls.
The Llangatwg Comprehensive school trip went ahead as planned, but Miah’s removal left pupils and staff “shocked and distressed”.
He told Wales Online that he was cleared to board the flight after being selected for a “random security check”, but was later approached by an official who told him he would not be able to continue his journey.
“Everyone was looking at me,” he said.
“As I was getting my luggage the teachers and kids were confused. I couldn’t believe this was happening. All the plane was quiet. I was being escorted out. It made me feel like a criminal. I couldn’t speak, I was lost for words.”
He was later taken to a “dirty” hotel, which left him feeling “paranoid”.
“My phone battery was dying so I went to my suitcase, and that’s when I realised the padlock was missing. It had gone. I was so paranoid, I was scared, I didn’t sleep or eat for two days,” Miah said.
He returned to the UK a day later.
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council has written to the US Embassy in London over the “unjustified act of discrimination”.
A council spokesperson described Miah as a “popular and respected teacher”.
A council spokesperson said in a statement: “We are appalled by the treatment of Mr Miah and are demanding an explanation. The matter has also been raised with our local Member of Parliament.
“No satisfactory reason has been provided for refusing entry to the United States – either at the airport in Iceland or subsequently at the US Embassy in Reykjavik.
“Mr Miah attempted to visit the embassy; but was denied access to the building.
“Understandably he feels belittled and upset at what appears to be an unjustified act of discrimination.”
Last week former Manchester footballer Dwight Yorke said he was also “made to feel like a criminal” after he was told he would not be able to board a flight travelling to Miami from Qatar.