Stranded American student 'sneaks' home, walks across U.S. border

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego man who was stuck in Costa Rica after being put on the U.S. government's "No Fly List" is finally back on American soil.

San Diego State graduate Kavon Iraniha, 27, spent the past year studying international law in Costa Rica. He was not allowed to board a flight home to San Diego this past Tuesday from a Costa Rican airport after being told he was on the U.S. government's "No Fly List."

When he went to the U.S. embassy, Iraniha — an American-Iranian Muslim citizen — said he was interviewed by FBI agents for several hours but was still unable to fly home.

Iraniha said the FBI questioned him about his recent travels to the Middle East, including Iran, where he visited his family.

On Thursday, Iraniha finally made it back home to San Diego after finding a loophole. Instead of flying directly to the U.S. from Costa Rica, Iraniha flew to Tijuana and then simply walked across the border to San Diego.

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.

–Kavon Iraniha

"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.

His journey began two days earlier in Costa Rica, where the SDSU graduate just got his masters in international peace.

He was at the Costa Rican Airport ready to fly home when he found out he was on the "No Fly List," which bans any passenger considered a security risk from boarding a plane bound for the United States.

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.

Despite the ordeal Iraniha went through, the American citizen said he will love the country where he was born and raised.

"We have so many freedoms here that you know you don't get everywhere else," he said.

It is still unclear whether or not Iraniha and his family will seek legal action against the U.S. government.

Most recent U.S. stories

Related topics

Tony Shin, NBC News


    Catch up on the top news and features from, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast