San Francisco - In August of 2006,
about 100 Iranian scholars, professional engineers and family members traveled
to the United States to attend the 4th International reunion of Sharif
University of Technology which was held in Santa Clara, CA from August 4-6th.
The focus of the reunion was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the university and to discuss Natural Disaster Management with emphasis on Earthquake and Tsunami.
The participants were traveling with valid visas and their ports of entries were San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and several other major cities throughout the United States. Upon their arrival in the United States, they were met by Customs and Border protection at their arriving gates and were later informed their visas had been revoked and they were denied entry into the United States.
About thirty of the participants arrived at the San Francisco International Airport and half of them were deported to their country of origin on the next available flight on the same date. The remaining individuals were deported the next day. They were fingerprinted, handcuffed, interrogated, separated from other family members, including children, and incarcerated in the Santa Clara County jail over night while arrangements were made for a returned flight to their countries of origin. None were charged with any crime but instead were forced to return to their country of origin.
Each year, the United States Customs and Border Protection estimates that 520 non-criminal individuals arrive in San Francisco and are determined inadmissible. Approximately 200 of those individuals are accommodated on return flights in a timely manner. The remaining 320 are turned over to the Department of Detention and Removal for transport to the Santa Clara County jail until a return flight can be arranged.
In August and September of last year, as the result of this incident, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission heard the group’s complaints and was outraged with the treatment of innocent individuals. The Commission began the process to request appropriate steps to be taken to prevent the incarceration of innocent visitors to San Francisco with invalid visas or where valid visas have been revoked.
After a year of investigation and collaboration, the Human Rights Commission achieved its objective. Both the United States Customs and Boarder Protection and the Airport Commission responded promptly and cooperatively to the issue by designating an area within the Airport as a holding facility for visitors to San Francisco whose visas have been revoked or canceled and are deemed inadmissible. Even though San Francisco Airport is not a 24 hour airport, with the cooperation of the Customs and Border Protection and the Airport Commission, the required securities were put in place and this lounge is now open 24 hours.
This new facility has been named Turquoise Lounge in honor of the Iranian visitors to San Francisco who prompted its creation. This lounge offers individuals a more humane setting while they await their departing flights. It contains amenities such as reclining leather chairs, television, magazines, toys, telephone and food – a comfortable lounge to preserve and protect the decorum and the human rights of the individuals. Turquoise Lounge opened on August 1st and since its opening, it has housed over 100 individuals overnight.
On behalf of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, I would like to extend our heartfelt and most sincere apologies to all the visitors who had to endure such harsh treatments. By creating this lounge, we are gratified that all individuals are treated with dignity which is the birth right of every human being.
Commissioner Nazly Mohajer, Committee Chair
San Francisco Human Rights Commission
My 24h stay in US
Eight of the graduates of SUT and their spouses and I (6 men and 3 women) were traveling by LH454 line on 3rd of Aug which reached there (San Francisco) at noon. At the first of our entrances two officers checked the passports of all the passengers, they sent me to the other one who controlled my visa and checked my name by a list. He told me to stay there. -Esmaeelzadeh, Sharif University - 8/10/06
Back Iranians With Valid Us Visas: Is This The Way To Win The Hearts And Minds
Of The Iranian People?
United States government could not have made its position towards the current Islamic Government of Iran clearer, even if it tried. The U.S. Administration's position, however, with respect to Iranian people is quite another story. If you sufficed to listening to the words uttered by those in charge, you would not doubt that the Administration has taken a rational approach to this issue. -Farzad Naeim and Najmedin Meshkati - 8/9/06
SFO travelers with visa woes now wait in special lounge, not jail
San Francisco International Airport now has a holding area where passengers who arrive with invalid or revoked visas can await return flights instead of being sent to jail. Opened in August, the facility is thought to be the first of its kind in the country and could be used as a model for other airports, said James Kosciuk, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Holding facility to open at SFO
The Human Rights Commission is expected to formally announce today the creation of a new holding facility at the San Francisco International Airport where noncriminals denied entry can wait for a return flight home instead of having to spend time at the Santa Clara County Jail.
... Payvand News - 9/30/07 ... --