Zubaidah Alizoti, a 17-year-old girl from Knoxville, TN has been denied entry back into the United States after traveling to the Middle East with her family. After making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the teen attempted to board a flight from Turkey to Atlanta.
According to a Facebook post from the teen’s mother, “my Tennessee born daughter was denied entry back to her country, my country, our country. 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.”
Madeline Rogero, the Mayor of Knoxville, saw the Facebook posts and immediately reached out to Congressional leaders in Tennessee for their help, according to the Huffington Post:
“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. 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.”
The TSA is placing blame for the incident strictly on the carrier, Turkish Airlines. TSA spokesperson, Sari Koshetz told HuffPo:
“International carriers are tasked with providing security information to the federal government before a passenger can fly into the United States. That did not happen in this case.”
The case comes as President Donald Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban, restricting travel to Muslim-majority countries, was struck down in court, though neither Turkey nor Saudi Arabia were named in the ban. The Department of Homeland Security, citing an unspecified terrorism threat, also banned electronics larger than a smartphone from carry-on luggage for passengers traveling from select Middle Eastern
According to Facebook posts, the family will again attempt to fly home on Wednesday.