An Irish employee at payments firm Stripe was denied entry to the US last week after visiting Somalia.
According to Stripe CEO Patrick Collison, who tweeted about the situation, the unnamed employee was interrogated because they had a Somalian stamp in their passport. We first spotted the story via The Register.
Collison tweeted the message that the employee had sent him about the incident.
The employee began their message by thanking Collison for his stance on US president Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. Collison had described the ban as “morally wrong.”
The employee wrote: “At pre-clearance they decided to question and intimidate me – fun! They told me I had a ‘common’ name and it was a match … and they wanted to see if I was the person they were looking for … brought me to a tiny room … told me there was a speaker and a camera, and there was a thermal sensor and they would be able to tell if I was hiding anything.”
The employee said the border guards had taken fingerprints, and that the reason for the detention was because Somalia was on a travel ban list.
Collison commented: “Sentiment matters and any erosion to the US’s reputation as the preeminent destination for high-potential people will be very costly.”
It’s worth noting that the Stripe employee was probably referencing tighter travel rules that were introduced after 9/11, and not Trump’s later travel ban.
As it stands, if you live in the UK and Ireland, it’s relatively easy to enter the US without a visa. But after 2011, if you also visited certain countries including Somalia, Libya, and Iran, you would need a full visa, even if you’d normally be entitled to easier entry.
According to the employee’s own account, it appears they were denied entry to the US for falling foul of these requirements, and for having a “suspicious” name. The person said they had once worked for an NGO in Somalia in 2012.
Here is Stripe CEO Patrick Collison’s tweet: