Australia asks why US refused dual citizen lawmaker entry

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia's government said Tuesday that it had asked the United States to explain why a state lawmaker with dual Australian-Syrian citizenship was refused entry last week.

Victoria lawmaker Khalil Eideh, a 62-year-old who was born in Lebanon to Syrian parents, was on a trip on government business with other state legislators when he was not allowed to fly from Vancouver, Canada, to Denver.

"At the foreign minister's request, Australia's embassy in Washington made urgent enquiries of the U.S. authorities as to what happened, and why Mr. Eidah was refused entry to the United States last week," Foreign Minister Julia Bishop's office said in a statement. "The U.S. authorities are following up on our request for information."

Eideh returned to his hometown of Melbourne on Saturday and told reporters: "I've been discriminated against. I'm very, very disappointed and frustrated."

Eideh said he had a U.S. visa and was given no explanation for why he was denied entry.

"To me it is unacceptable, because I'm representing the Australian people, the Victorian people," he said.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Eideh had a U.S. visa and was part of a group of Victoria lawmakers examining the effectiveness of drug laws and regulations in Europe and North America.

President Donald Trump has faced court challenges to temporarily ban visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

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