‘He was completely confused’: Victorian MP Khalil Eideh denied entry to US
A Victorian state Labor MP of Muslim faith has been refused entry to the United States, despite the US Embassy in Canberra granting him an A2 diplomatic visa four weeks ago, SBS World News understands.
Khalil Eideh, who was born in Lebanon, was not allowed to join a group of parliamentary colleagues on a flight from Vancouver to Denver in the United States.
Staff members at Mr Khalil’s electorate office were initially unable to reach their MP and could not confirm his whereabouts around midday on Friday.
SBS World News now understands Mr Eideh is either already on a flight back home to Australia, or will be soon, cutting short his official study trip.
“The first we heard that there was a problem was when a United Airlines staff member told Khalil that he wasn’t able to board the plane,” Sex Party MP Fiona Patten, who was with Mr Eideh at the time, told SBS World News from Denver.
“He was completely confused. And then, as it played out a bit further, he became really upset, as anyone would,” she said.
“He has been denied entry into the United States.”
Liberal MP Martin Dixon, Labor MP Geoff Howard and Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Rick Nugent are also on the study trip.
Victoria MP Khalil Eideh has been refused entry into the US.
The group had been in Europe and Canada studying drug laws and were due to fly to Denver for the final leg when Mr Eideh was blocked at the airport.
Lebanon, where Mr Eideh was born, is not one of the countries that US president Donald Trump is attempting to include in a travel ban on a number of Muslim-majority nations.
Ms Patten said the group had sent their passports to the US Embassy in Canberra, which granted them A2 visas around four weeks ago.
“At no point was there any notification to the parliament, or to Khalil, or to our delegation … that there had been a change of mind by the US government,” she said.
“For this to happen and for him to be notified by United Airlines staff was devastating.
“Had some error occurred – why weren’t we notified? Why was it the fact that United Airlines knew and we didn’t?”
Ms Patten said airline staff did not offer an explanation.
“I think this is frightening, and frankly I look forward to hearing why on earth they would do something like this to an Australian member of parliament.”
The US Embassy in Canberra and United Airlines have been contacted for comment.