Kenyan girl detained at Chicago airport, denied US entry over Trump ban


Kenyan girl detained at Chicago airport, denied US entry over Trump ban
Kenyan girl detained at Chicago airport, denied US entry over Trump ban

A Kenyan girl was denied entry into the United States a day after courts barred President Donald Trump from deporting immigrants.

Ednah Chepkoton, 25, was held at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for many hours after getting off a United Airlines flight on February 4.

She had been given a five-year multiple entry visa by the US embassy in Nairobi on January 20.

Ednah, a Kabianga university nursing graduate, narrated her harrowing experience to the Star from the airport, after an immigration officer singled her out of thousands of passengers who were on transit.

“We landed at around 9.30 am but when I was clearing with customs an immigration officer called me aside and started questioning me,” she said.

Chicago is one of the areas where anti-travel ban protests have simmered for days.

Chicago area immigration attorney Diana Mendoza Pacheco offers her assistance to arriving passengers at O’Hare airport in Chicago. /REUTERS

While checking Ednah’s passport and visa, the officer asked what her real mission to the US was.

“I was so confused and terrified. It was my first trip out of Kenya,” she said.

The officer then started checking her luggage and documents. He asked her why she was carrying her academic papers and if she did not plan to return to Kenya.

“I told him I always travel with my papers and that I had a return ticket,” she said.

But she was told to go and wait outside while her issue was discussed.

Read: Trump’s US travel ban signals ‘turbulent times’ for Africa – AU chief

Also read: AU criticises Trump for ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries

The officer called Ednah back after four hours and asked her to give him her cell phone.

“He asked for the password which I gave to him,” she said, adding she was then asked to leave the office.

Ednah was so terrified by that time and passengers in her connecting flight to Baytown were already boarding.

“I went back to ask why my case was taking long because my flight was leaving. It was at that juncture that the officer, who was with a woman in uniform, told me he had two questions for me,” she said.

She was asked to choose between being banned from the US for five years and having her visa withdrawn.

Even more terrified by this turn of events, Ednah requested the officers to let her call her cousin. They refused.

Caught between a hard rock and a hard place, she chose the cancellation of her multiple entry visa.

Her visa now bears a United States Homeland Security stamp withdrawing it.

Ednah was bundled into a return flight to Nairobi at around 6pm, more than eight hours after setting foot in the US.

“I was really looking forward to my one-month stay in the US. We had spent a lot of money on air tickets…it is so sad that after all the vetting at the embassy in Nairobi I was humiliated this much.”

Ednah had paid $1,390 to Lufthansa airline for her return ticket. She connected to her flight in Frankfurt on February 3.

Upon returning to Kenya, Ednah called the US embassy and was told to send her denial of entry letter. The Star had not obtained a comment from the embassy by press time.

Trump halted the entire US refugee programme in an executive order signed last Friday and instituted a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

But a US judge issued a stay temporarily halting the deportation of visa holders or refugees under the executive order.

The judge’s stay prevents those “caught up” in the aftermath from being deported.

The court decision came as thousands protested at airports in several US states over Trump’s clampdown on immigration.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit, estimated that between 100 and 200 people were being detained at airports or in transit.



Kenyan girl detained at Chicago airport, denied US entry over Trump ban

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  1. LWK says

    Kenya is not one of the 7 countries mentioned in the ban. So, how is it that Ednan was sent back to Kenya? It wasn’t due to President Trump’s order since she was not from one of the 7 countries (which did not include Kenya). How do you make a connection to the Trump order then? Was she perhaps a refugee. This article leaves more questions than it answers. There must have been other reasons having nothing to do with the Trump order. Maybe you should ask what she was told in reality about her case. Was Ednan a Kenyan citizen? If so, how could her refusal for entry be tied to the order. Where was the so-called atty. mentioned in the article when she was being questioned. They had to give her a valid reason for the revokation of her Visa. Was it valid–did someone obtain it on behalf of Ednan and perhaps trick her? Was it for continued education? Please explain more. But one thing for sure the reporter needs to explain is how a Kenyan citizen is banned based on Trump’s order since the order doesn’t even include Kenya. We need whole truths, not half-truths. Thanks!

    1. CEO says

      I agree with you totally. She is a nursing graduate who was probably going to settle in the US and failed to provide proof that she will return to Kenya and not settle in the US illegally. This has nothing to do with Trump.

    2. Kimani J.N says

      Greetings from Nairobi City, Kenya. Now, it should be understood by everyone that the process of applying & getting an American visa here in Kenya is a very rigorous and lengthy process, carried out by very competent US Embassy staff – all well-educated citizens of the USA.

      It costs a Kenyan visa applicant a non-refundable fee of $160 to apply for the USA Visa and an extra $40 if the visa is approved. Only about 10% of applicants get visas. The rest (90%) have no option but to forfeit their money to the US Embassy. Here in Kenya, there are hundreds of hopefuls attending visa interviews daily, all week long.

      At Frankfurt airport, Germany, there’s a very detailed US security unit that processes all connecting passengers from Kenya. The grilling is a very serious & lengthy activity manned by very meticulous and extremely well trained security officers – again, all US citizens.

      By the time a Kenyan visa holder lands at O’hare airport – Chicago, they’ll have been processed by dozens of very well trained diplomats & competent security officers – both at the US Embassy in Kenya & in Frankfurt airport, Germany.

      A return ticket will have cost their family about $1,500.

      Every Homeland Security officer serving at the ports of entry MUST be advised to take into account the skilled competencies & abilities of their colleagues (and fellow American citizens) working at the different processing points – from the visa application & approval points, mid-flight units, to the end of the flight.

      Denying an arriving visa holder entry MUST NEVER be a casual wave of one’s hand or a simple “go back” shout. The Embassy and all line officers MUST be ready & very willing to be held to account about this and must make concrete reports to justify their decisions.

      Failure to provide or establish a concrete reason for denial of entry, a COMPENSATION process must be instituted – first refunding visa fees, flight expenses and all other applicable compensations.

      Kenyan families must NOT be forced to lose or waste their $1,700 just because someone wants to do a casual experiment invoking a “presidential executive order.” That will be gross heartless. Very sad.

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