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Stranded American-Iranian Student on 'No-Fly List' Walks Across U.S. Border


"I don't have any felonies, I am not a druggie! I am an educated American-Iranian Muslim citizen; I guess that makes me a threat."

A San Diego man, stuck in Costa Rica after being placed on the no-fly list by the U.S. government, is now back in America after a terrifying ordeal, NBC San Diego reports.

Iraniha, 27, spent the last year studying international law in Costa Rica. After trying to board an airplane bound for San Diego, he was informed by airport security that he was on the U.S. government's no-fly list, which is compiled by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center.

Iraniah – an American-Iranian Muslim citizen and San Diego State graduate – then visited the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica and was interviewed by the FBI agents "for several hours" and was asked about his recent trips to countries in the Middle East, Including Iran, where he says he visited family. After talking with the FBI, he still was not permitted to travel to the United States.

So what did he do? He hopped on a plane to Tijuana and then walked across the U.S.-Mexico border into San Diego, where he was greeted by members of his family. His situation first made national news yesterday before it was known that he was back in his home country.

Iraniha and his family are upset about the way the situation was handled by law enforcement, however, at this point it isn't known if they will pursue legal action against the U.S. government.

Some civil rights advocates, including the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), are arguing that this was an instance of racial profiling against Muslims.

"At this moment we are trying to get him safely home, and we will look at the details and questions in coming days," said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of CAIR San Diego, Inside Costa Rica reports.

Even Iraniha himself said the decision to place him on the no-fly list was due to his Islamic faith.

"I don't have any felonies, I am not a druggie! I am an educated American-Iranian Muslim citizen; I guess that makes me a threat," Iraniha reportedly wrote on his Facebook page.

NBC San Diego has more on the Iraniha's story:

The Lemon Grove resident still doesn't understand why the U.S. government allowed him to come home on foot, but not by air.

"I'm happy to be home, finally in my hometown where I was born and raised," Iraniha told NBC 7 San Diego in San Ysidro Thursday evening.

Upon finally arriving in San Diego, you could see the relief on Iraniha's face and on the faces of his parents and brothers who met him at the San Ysidro border crossing.

For Iraniha, it has been a long journey home.

"You see my bloodshot eyes? I'm still going through it, it was very tiring and it was very depressing," he said.

Iraniha and his father spoke to FBI agents that day and said agents never explained why, exactly, he was on the list in the first place.

"None of this makes sense. Whoever did this is not American. I'd like to know why they did that," said his father Nasser Iraniha Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Terrorist Screening Center, the agency that compiles the "No Fly List," said Thursday they cannot release any information about any individual cases.

Being on the no-fly list does not bar individuals from entering the U.S. by land, but there are also few documented instances of it actually happening.

There is no information available that indicates Iraniha or members of his family have any terrorism ties.

Watch the full NBC San Diego report here:


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