Family upset over Iranian woman's denial of U.S. entry at PDX - KPTV - FOX 12

Family upset over Iranian woman's denial of U.S. entry at PDX

Posted: Updated: Mar 29, 2017 07:22 PM
Alia Ghandi (Family photo/KPTV) Alia Ghandi (Family photo/KPTV)
Protesters at Portland International Airport on Wednesday (KPTV) Protesters at Portland International Airport on Wednesday (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Portland woman is looking for answers after her Iranian sister was turned away at the Portland International Airport and denied entry into the U.S.

Leila Ahranjani said she arrived at the airport Tuesday excited to pick up her sister, but that excitement turned to disappointment because her sister never walked through the gate.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that 29-year-old Alia Ghandi was turned away and held overnight until she could be flown back to Amsterdam.

Ahranjani said her sister is an architect in Iran and had a valid tourist visa to visit family members in Portland for a few weeks.

Federal officials said this denial has nothing to do with President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, as the proposed travel ban has been blocked by federal judges.

Ahranjani said she believes her sister was targeted because she is from Iran. A small group of protesters joined Ahranjani at the airport Wednesday.

“If a European, young girl would come here, that would not happen. She had nothing with her. She had nothing, just a few clothes and gifts for the kids," Ahranjani said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement Wednesday about the situation and maintains this was a routine visa denial.  

"While Privacy Act limitations prevent U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from discussing specifics about an individual traveler arrival records, it is important to highlight that having a 'valid visa' does not guarantee a foreign national entry into the U.S. A valid visa allows a foreign national to come to an international U.S. airport and 'knock at the door.' A traveler regardless of their country of nationality can be found inadmissible into the U.S. for various reasons."

Grounds for inadmissibility can include health-related issues, prior criminal convictions, security reasons, labor certification, documentation requirements, illegal entrants and immigration violations.

The ACLU of Oregon reports they are working with the family and have connected them with lawyers.

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