York University graduate Aster Abebe is accusing the UK Visas and Immigration Department for making her three cousins miss her graduation ceremony when they were not allowed entry into the country, reports The Independent.
Abebe’s family was travelling to the graduation via a Ryanair flight from Brussels Charleroi to Manchester Airport on July 14 when her US-born cousins with Ethiopian descent and holding US passports were interrogated by the Belgian police as the UK authorities had thought their passports to be fake.
“They went through Belgian security and there were no issues at all. The first time something was flagged was when they were [about to] board the plane,” the 21-year old graduate said.
“It was after checking and it was literally at the boarding gate when they were told: ‘We’ve been informed UK immigration is going to refuse you’.”
Student Accuses of racial discrimination after family misses her graduation
— SEYOUM (@SEYOUMAGEX) July 24, 2017
Describing the episode as “quite traumatic”, Abebe’s cousins were asked to make repeated signatures or fix their hairstyles so that it matched the appearance on their identity documents.
“It was really bizarre. They had to watch officials really scrutinising their passports to make sure the thread was the same,” Abebe said, adding that this would not happen to a white family travelling with US passports.
A UK Home Office spokesman did not provide comment to The Independent, saying they do not discuss individual cases.
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