32-year-old Leandro Pérez Cadarso from Pamplona, Spain had been working as an architect in Mexico for four years. He tried to cross the border into the U.S. at Tijuana on April 23 and was seized by authorities under U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban and jailed for 40 days. His crime was a “simple” one – in 2011 he had taken a vacation with his family to Syria, where they visited the Roman ruins at Palmyra and other ancient monuments in Lebanon, many of which has since been destroyed by ISIS.

Spaniard who vacationed in Syria jailed and deported in the U.S.

When Pérez tried to cross the border into the U.S., he had no idea that he would end up a victim of Trump’s notorious travel ban. However, as he was passing through customs at Tijuana, the officer for duty noted on his visa application that Pérez had taken a vacation in Syria six years ago leading to his immediate arrest. Pérez was not told why he was being arrested and wasn’t charged with any crime, but was placed behind bars for 40 days until he was deported back to Spain.

Pérez told the Spanish El Pais newspaper that he had been through a frightening experience. He had no idea what was happening, and as far as he knew, he hadn’t done anything wrong.

No one explained to Pérez why he was being arrested and detained. He theorized that maybe a criminal had the same name as him, or maybe someone had placed drugs in his backpack.

Taken into a room and handcuffed at U.S. border

According to Pérez, as soon as the customs official had typed in his details, he strangely looked at him and told him to enter a room.

Pérez said two officers then put him against the wall, handcuffing him from behind. He told the officers that if he couldn’t enter the U.S., they could send him back to Mexico, but to no avail.

Pérez also said no one visited him from the Spanish consulate during his ordeal. He did get one phone call and managed to speak to his girlfriend, who told his family in Spain what had happened.

When his family contacted the Spanish consulate, they were told there was nothing they could do to help the situation involving the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service.

Valid visa for U.S. entry in passport

As reported by Noticias de Navarra, Pérez had a valid visa to enter the U.S., as he had previously visited Los Angeles. However, he had recently traveled to Spain to renew his passport and had then applied for a new visa to include in that document. The reason why he was detained turned out to be that he had ticked a box on that visa which said he had traveled to Syria on vacation six years before.

However, during his stay behind bars, he was never asked about his visit to Syria and ended up passing the time by helping other, mostly Hispanic prisoners, complete forms in English.

After 40 days, Pérez was finally deported from the U.S. and arrived back in Madrid two weeks ago. He has now decided his traveling days are over and will be going back to University in an effort to find work in Spain. If Pérez does choose to visit the U.S. again, he will only be able to apply for a visa in five years’ time.