“Is this the new Great America?”
A Tennessee family on a Spring Break trip is experiencing a travel nightmare that has them questioning the “new Great America.”
Sabrina Sadaf Siddiqi wrote a viral Facebook post about her family’s trip to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, and how, when they attempted to board their flight back to Atlanta, her 17-year-old daughter, Zubaidah Alizoti, was denied entry.
“Today, as we tried to board our flight back to America my daughter, my 17 year old, my kind, my courteous, my loved by many, my Tennessee born daughter was denied entry back to her country, my country, our country,” Siddiqi wrote. “In this new #America a citizen of our country can be unlawfully denied entry for no apparent reason other than border patrol would not clear her United States passport for entry. In this new #America my family, my patriotic, my community serving family can be denied entry back to our own homeland. In this new #America my family can be treated unjustly by my own country. Is this the new Great America?”
The Huffington Post reports that Alizota was born in the U.S. and attends high school in Knoxville.
Donald Trump’s latest travel ban, which was blocked by a federal judge, includes six Muslim-majority countries, but does not target travelers from Turkey, the country the family was trying to leave. In a statement, the Transportation Security Administration told reporters the airline was at fault for Alizoti being denied reentry.
“International carriers are tasked with providing security information to the federal government before a passenger can fly into the United States,” a TSA spokesperson said. “That did not happen in this case.”
Meanwhile, Siddiqi has been keeping friends, family and supporters updated via her Facebook page. In one post, she wrote that the family will attempt to board another flight on Wednesday, adding, “If you’re the praying type, pray for us these next few days that we are ALL able to board and enter ATL without any incidents.”
In a later post, she said the family had attempted to meet with the U.S. consulate, but appointments are booked out for nearly two weeks.
“There are no appointments till March 31st and we are attempting to leave again on the 22nd,” she explained.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero has been working to help the family return, including calling in political help.
“I contacted the offices of Senators Alexander and Corker and Congressman Duncan, and they all responded promptly and promised to reach out to the Siddiqis,” Rogero said. “I have heard from Sabrina Siddiqi that she has heard from them, and she appreciates the support. We all hope she and her daughter are able to travel home soon.”