The Day the Groom Got Deported From the US.

This story is a true story, just like all of them in ‘The Road to the Horizon’. It is a story within a story.. It happened in the background from ‘The Day I Got Deported from the US’, which I published before. In many ways, this one is much more painful than mine.
To protect the privacy of the people involved, I changed their names.

I met Omar and Iman at London Heathrow. Well, I did not exactly “meet” them. I saw them on the same flight as I was, from Cairo to London. They showed up at the departure gate in London for the flight to Washington too, and were sitting in a row of seats, their backs to mine.
They were a lovely couple. Both were tall, slim, well groomed. Two young attractive, ordinary people. And clearly very much in love, as they sat with hands stranded one in another, her head on his shoulder as they were talking. I felt a bit embarrassed overhearing their conversation, but I could not help it, as we were sitting back to back. They spoke mostly in English, with a slight American accent. I could gather they were both Egyptian, and lived close to Cairo. Omar and Iman got married a few days before, and were on honeymoon to the US, where some of their relatives and many of their friends lived. I understood both had studied in the US for a couple of years. As they were talking, it was clear they were really eager to go back, and planned to fly ‘all over’ to catch up with their loved ones.

Once we landed in Washington, I saw them back in the queue at the immigration counter. His arm around her waste. Faces close together.. I did not really follow what went on, but I did see that they went to the counter separately, Iman first. While I was having ‘my share of discussions’ with the screening officer, I could see that Omar had the same, three booths further down the aisle. A few minutes later, he showed up in the immigration waiting room, and took a seat amongst ‘me and all other problem cases’. Iman was not with him anymore.
After I got back from being finger printed, Omar was standing at the counter talking to the immigration officer. There was clearly something wrong. I overheard part of the conversation:

him#6 (shaking his head, looking at this computer screen): Sorry, I can not let you enter.
Omar: But as I told you, I am here with my wife. We just got married. We are on our honey moon. I have a valid passport, and a valid visa !
him#6: As I said before, sir: your name is on the watch list.
Omar: But I told you, my name is very common in Egypt. Whoever you have on that list, is not me. I have nothing against the US, I came here on honeymoon.
him#6: I am sorry, I can not admit you to the US. It would take days, maybe weeks to investigate if it is you on this list or not. Where is your wife now?
Omar: She went through immigration, and is probably waiting at the luggage belt now.
him#6: What is the name of your wife?
Omar: Iman
him#6: OK, let me call the airline supervisor

A bit later, the British Airways airline supervisor, the same dealing with ‘my case’, walked in.
She: I just spoke to your wife. She has collected your luggage, and is now in the arrivals hall.
him#6: Who was supposed to pick you up from the airport?
Omar: My aunt
him#6: Who is your aunt?
Omar: , here is her cell phone number, you can call her. Or better, can I call her? I would like to inform my wife what is happening, and that she should wait for me.
him#6: I am sorry, you can only make one local call. Can you call someone in Washington?
Omar: Only my aunt but probably nobody will be home. I guess her whole family is here in the arrival hall waiting for us.
He tried to call his aunt’s home number, but got no answer.

She: Let me go back to your wife, and inform her what is going on.
She (to him#6): So, what is going to happen?
him#6: I can not admit him to the US. He will have to go back.
She: The return flight is pretty full already. We will try our best to find you a seat. Let me go and inform your wife, Mr Omar. Do you need any of your luggage checked in on the return flight? That is if I find you a seat…
Omar: If I fly back, I would want my wife to come back with me also.
She: I am afraid that won’t be possible, our flight is full. I will do my best to find YOU a seat.
Omar (to him#6): Can I see my wife, so we can discuss what we should do?
him#6: No, your wife already passed immigration and customs, she can not come back in. And of course, I can not allow you to go out.
Omar: But.. you are sending me back, we are on our honeymoon, and I can not even speak to her?
him#6: I am sorry. If you have any message, please pass it on to the airline supervisor.

Omar stepped aside, and talked to the BA lady. She walked off. He sat down in a seat, in a corner, his head resting on his hands, bent forward. After a while, the BA lady came back.

She: I have not found you a seat yet.
Omar: Can I wait until tomorrow?
She: We are pretty full also on tomorrow’s flight, but I am sure I can get you on that flight.
Omar: Where would I spend the night then.
She (lowers her voice): They will keep you in detention overnight.
Omar (cramps his fist): I can not believe this. We lived here for years. We both studied here, we have friends and families here. When would my wife fly?
She: Well, we have the obligation to get you back on the first available flight, as you were denied entrance to the US. But we have no responsibility towards your wife, as she was admitted to the US. She will have to change her ticket, and I will put her on the top of the waiting list. But you will get the first available seat on the first available flight. Maybe tonight. I will try.

By then I was taken back to the plane. I did not see him on the flight. I don’t know how this story ended.
I had never heard of ‘a black list’ before. I recalled this story, though when a few weeks later, we had US visa application rejected for one of our staff. He had a very common Pakistani name…

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