NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi says she was racially profiled at Los Angeles International Airport after she was detained and interrogated by immigration officials before being permitted to enter the country.
Dr Faruqi, who was travelling to the United States on a self-funded trip to investigate drug law reform, said she and her husband were passing through immigration control at LAX when they were stopped as they handed over their passports on Friday morning (Australian time).
"[M]y husband and I were questioned about how 'we got' our Aussie passports, then sent off to the interview room and interrogated separately about why we were in the US and my links to Pakistan," Dr Faruqi said via a statement.
Dr Faruqi, who was born in Pakistan but migrated to Australia in 1992 with her young family, said she and her husband were forced to hand over further identification in an incident she has criticised as "racial profiling".
They were then fingerprinted and interviewed by immigration officials before they were allowed into the country. The whole process took about an hour.
"There is no excuse for racial profiling anywhere. I can only imagine this is only a glimpse of what goes on routinely.
"I have lived in Australia for over 24 years so while this line of questioning is going on, you feel a mix of emotions from indignation to humiliation to fear. No one deserves to be treated with such suspicion for no reason."
After fingerprinting etc, we were asked how we 'got' Aussie passports & marched off to the interview room for grilling. Welcome to America.— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) January 14, 2016
But the US Customs and Border Protection rejected Dr Faruqi's claims of racial profiling in a statement released on Saturday, calling the admissibility interview a routine screening measure.
"US Customs and Border Protection firmly denies any claims that a traveller may be subject to an admissibility interview because of racial profiling.
"It's not unusual that a legitimate traveller may be subject to an enhance screening.
"As part of their critical national security mission, CBP officers check the validity of travel documents, on all travelers regardless of nationality, race, sex, religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs and conducts enhanced screenings to ensure the traveler is the true holder."
Correction: an earlier version of this story said Dr Faruqi was interviewed for an hour by immigration officials. Rather, whole process took about an hour and the article has been updated to reflect this.