LONDON: An Iraq-born Irish national was prevented from flying to the US by border officials because he was born in Iraq, The Independent reported.
Hurler Abood Al-Jumaili was preparing to fly to Atlanta from Dublin, Ireland, on Wednesday.
The US and Ireland share a preclearance scheme for travel, which allows travelers to clear immigration checks before departure.
But ahead of his trip, Al-Jumaili, an Irish citizen who travels on an Irish passport, received an email from US authorities alerting him that his ESTA application had been denied.
Al-Jumaili claimed that in the email, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that he was denied because of his birthplace.
The athlete then visited Dublin Airport, where he was again refused by CBP employees.
Al-Jumaili was planning to travel to the US to coach, play hurling matches and attend Irish events.
He said: “A series of events was organized by the Irish in Atlanta and the Gaelic Athletic Association personnel — something I have been looking forward to all this month.”
Al-Jumaili added that he was “excited” to visit the US to “play my beloved sport and do talks and coach American youth GAA, share my journey with them and meet with several Irish and American organizations.
“I received an email to say that I have been rejected entry to the US because I was born in Iraq, even though I am an Irish citizen.
“I was shocked and still am. A mission that I have been preparing myself for and looking forward to being denied because of where I was born?
“I was in the airport looking at all these passengers getting through with their Irish passport. I’m there as an Irish citizen, yet I am denied travel because of where I was born. It really is appalling and insulting.”
Al-Jumaili, who has never traveled to Iraq as an adult, moved to Ireland from Baghdad aged nine in 2008. He was granted Irish citizenship two years later.
The CBP criteria for travel says that Iranian, Iraqi, North Korean, Sudanese and Syrian nationals are ineligible for the Visa Waiver Program.
“I believe it is totally unethical to have such a policy in place,” Al-Jumaili said.
“Someone’s country of birth or nationality should not determine their entry to a specific country or any country.
“This policy is not compliant with human rights and contrary to the rule of law.”