ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com/AP) — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said he will investigate a lawmaker’s claim that U.S. officials prevented a British Muslim family from flying from England to Disneyland in Anaheim for a planned holiday.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials confirmed to CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues on Wednesday that the incident occurred, but disputed allegations that all eleven family members were denied permission to board the flight.
Stella Creasy, a member of the U.K. opposition Labour Party, said her constituents were given no information as to why they were not allowed to board a plane departing from Gatwick Airport on Dec. 15.
Creasy says this is part of a larger pattern affecting British Muslims, and that a lack of information from U.S. officials was sparking resentment among Muslims who feel discriminated against, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.
The report comes days after U.S. presidential contender Donald Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims visiting the country due to concerns about extremist attacks.
There have also been calls for greater screening of Muslims coming into the U.S. in light of questions raised about one of the San Bernardino shooters and her ability to get a fiancée visa to enter the country.
“It’s because of the attacks on America. They think every Muslim poses a threat,” Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was one of the family prevented from boarding his flight, told The Guardian.
He went on to explain how the children in the group had been counting down the days until they would be able to see their extended family in Southern California and visit Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Mahmood and his brother were told by the airline they were to travel on that they would not be refunded the 9,000-pound cost of their flights, and the family was forced to return items they had purchased from the airport’s duty-free shops before they were escorted from the premises, according to the British paper.
“I have never been more embarrassed in my life,” Mahmood told The Guardian. “I work here. I have a business here. But we were alienated.”
Creasy’s office told The Associated Press Wednesday that she had written to Cameron seeking his intervention. She complained that she had hit “a brick wall” looking for information about the case.
Michael Wildes, a former federal prosecutor and expert on immigration law, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO authorities should be able to improve screening methods without jeopardizing America’s long-standing practice of welcoming foreign visitors.
“We can’t destroy our immigration legacy and system, we just have to tighten up our vetting,” said Wildes.
Creasy told the prime minister there was “growing fear” among British Muslims that aspects of Trump’s plans were coming into practice even though they have been widely condemned. She warned that some Muslims believed the public condemnation of Trump’s position “contrasts with what is going on in practice.”
Cameron had earlier characterized Trump’s policy as “divisive and wrong.”
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