Have you ever had Your plans joinked out of you and left in limbo With a broken heart? Have you ever been told that you have no rights and treated unjust although innocent? Have you ever entered the US. With innocent intentions and sent back home after being treated like a criminal? Have you ever, as an innocent person been thrown into a detention centre cell With criminals after being handcuffed and escorted With armed police?
Well then you are not alone. The world is a scary Place, even the Places you feel relatively safe and expect decent treatment, justice and reasonable conversations, from a westernized, educated and wealthy society. It’s scary how a country that Calls itself ‘The land of the free’ has so much Power, surveys us all, and can treat us however they like. The experience I am about to tell you about, has made me paranoid of actually sharing it, as I know we are all being watched, but I refuse to be silent, I want to tell the truth, and warn you, I am perhaps commenting as well as telling the absolute truth, but I am not doing anything illegal. This is InFact what happened. I dedicate this to all the innocently imprisoned People that are held captured in Foreign countries, my experience was a mere peak-in-the-window, into what can happen, and what it’s like.
I am not going to tag it fully, I’m not making this an obvious post, if you find it, then you have at least been warned.
It’s a long story, but basically:
· I was denied entrance to the US because I didn’t have a K1 visa which allows a foreign fiancé to come to the states and marry within 90 days, and as it wasn’t a spontaneous wedding, (my journal clearly stated that we had talked about it before) it wasn’t allowed
· I am now ineligible to travel under the tourist visa ever again because I violated the terms because I indented to visit my fiancé.
· I was treated like a criminal, handcuffed, put in a detention centre sharing a cell with criminals over night.
· I was temporary denied access to any of my possessions or to contact anyone.
· I was sent to Germany and didn’t get my passport until I arrived there, where I had to find my way home on my own.
· I am now unable to travel to the United States unless I get a K1 (fiancé visa) or a regular Visa (which is practically impossible to get.)
· Me and my boyfriend are now petitioning for this k1 visa, paying around $3300 for an attorney and the visa itself, and waiting for the 6-8 month process to either decline or accept me.
This is how it happened.
After a long line in Frankfurt to board the plane, the servicer said that I couldn’t fly unless I had a return ticket. Because I was flying under a tourist visa. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of that… So I ran back through security, out of check in, into the main hall and to the last minute ticket counter. I was already crying, asked the lady to help me, and she found a ticket for the 1st. of December, for around 400 euros. She was used to this last minute resort thing as she worked for the ESTA programme, (the tourist Visa) and was very helpful. She told me to run to catch the plane, and I ran like never before and made it just in time. Boarded the plane with my heart in my throat. After over ten hours of flying I deplaned along with a German girl who was worried about catching the next plane to San Fransisco. She had a student visa which had caused her a lot of trouble and taken a lot of time. After we had exited the plane, we were divided by US citizens and the rest. We, the visa holders and foreigners had to wait while the citizens could start entering, and after a while we could start entering, while walking own the stairs, right next to where the US citizens were standing on the escalators looking at us.
I noticed how funny that was, and I said out loud in an old-timey American accent, ‘why I think I notice some.. difference here..” And everyone started laughing. I had over five hours lay over, so I let people go ahead of me in the line, because it took a very long time, and people were panicking. When it finally was my turn the first officer was very sceptical looking at my passport and asking me questions, he gave me a red card and pointed me to the side, where I had to go. As soon as I got there, smiling, I walked up to the desk, and the man just instantly took my passport, and said; “Sit down, and do not use any electronics.”
I sat down, there were loads of disgruntled and worried people sitting there, and several people missed their flights because it took so long. Many people came and went, until the clock struck about 5, it was only me left. I had waited for five hours, not allowed to use a phone or anything. I knew I was going to miss my flight, but thought that surely they would get me on the next one. But I was wondering why they left me waiting that long without telling me anything. And I surmised because my departure was the latest one of the people waiting. EVEN THOUGH I had heard an officer saying to a complaining woman that they did us in order. People were very upset with how rude and intimidating the officers were. A French couple were outraged but they didn’t dare speak up. Then they let me go downstairs to get my luggage, and they brought me into the offices and started questioning me. Then the officer pointed out that my departure date, (the 1st. of December) was later than 90 days, which is as long as the tourist Visa allows you to stay. I couldn’t believe, it, I had been so stupid, I had rushed to buy the ticket, then rushed at the airport to buy the return ticket without thinking about the 90 day thing, just reckoning that the lady would give me a date that would work. They were really rude and intimidating, and all wearing guns, and started looking through my luggage. When asked what I was going to do during my stay, I said travelling and visiting friends and family, which is, after all true, and I felt like saying that I was going to get married to my boyfriend Rick, was a bad idea. So they went away for an hour. I sat there waiting, not allowed to touch any of my stuff, getting worried that they were going to send me home. They came back and then they started looking through my photos that I had with me, and saw a large amount of them was with Rick, and started mocking me and pressuring me to say what kind of relationship it was, and throwing the pictures in front of my face, shouting at me, accusingly. I was scared and astounded and said that “I don’t see why that is any of your business” and man they knew how to tell me differently. After that, I was crying and shaking, and they said, that they were going to make a call to Rick and see what he would say, and after I said that surely they couldn’t read my journal, because it was private, they shouted at me again, grabbed it, laughed at me, and made me wait for another hour and a half. When they came back, after having had loud discussions different coffee brands, and how stupid some of the people had been today at passport control, which I had been forced to sit quietly and listen to while all doors was opened, and I was not allowed to do anything, touch anything or go anywhere.
They told me that Rick had said that we were getting married on the 1st. of October, and that we were engaged. I panicked. When they had try to get information on me and Rick I had said that I didn’t know how I felt, that I was involved with another man back home, and that things had changed my feelings, so I didn’t know what I was getting into or what I was going to do. So I continued on that sayint that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to get married, and how I felt, but they kept referencing things they had read in my journal (which I have written in English since I was 15) And they also slammed their hands down on the desk in front of me saying that Rick had said that I had invited friends, and that he was ready for me with an apartment in our name together. I knew then that I had been proven to lie, and I tried to explain that what I said had been true and that things were complicated, and I was crying and crying as their attitude towards me was as if I had done something terribly wrong. They said that fair enough things might be complicated, but they needed me to do a sworn statement, under oath, (they had to tell me three times, because I didn’t understand the police officers accent, as his English wasn’t as proficient as mine) and during that statement, I had to simplify my answers and say the same things that Rick had said or they would take me for lying. Then they left me to wait, and said I could go to the restroom whenever and tell them if I got hungry, and I waited for over two hours. I cried the whole time, trying to gather myself and keep faith in whatever happened next would be ok. They came back and said that they would record me and I had to raise my right hand and answer all their questions. The interview lasted about an hour, and they said that they were going to give it to their superiors to evaluate. A long wait after that they said that he had looked at it and they found me inadmissible, and that unfortunately there were no flights back to Norway that day, and that they had been trying to call around all day to sort me out with a flight back. So obviously, although they had denied it and refused to tell me anything, they had known all along that I would not be able to go to Hawaii and see Rick. Then they left me with that information, I waited a long time before they came in and asked if I was hungry, and I asked them what was going on and what I was waiting for and whether I could use my stuff now. After being ridiculed and told that I had no rights, they said that because there were no flights today, they were going to detain me, and were waiting for a female officer to do “the pat down”. That was all they told me. I was so tired as I had worked the night shift the day before going, and barely slept, so they told me I could rest my head on the desk while sitting down or they could get me a blue mattress. I got confused, I just wanted to go to bed. I begged them to let me call my mum to let her know I was ok, and what was going on, after they denied I explained to them that my mother had anxiety after my brother’s death, and really needed to know that I was ok. They let me call her for five minutes, and I tried to explain calmly what was going on. After a long while a female officer had arrived and they had me sign a receipt of possessions, so that they could lock away all of my luggage and possessions. I asked if I could have my computer and if there would be internet where I was going. They said I wouldn’t be allowed to bring any of my own possessions, but that there would be a TV there. Hadn’t it been for one officer who was at least polite warning me, the next happenings would have shocked me even more than it did. He told me that for security and according to their regular procedure they would have to search me and handcuff me and escort me to the car to drive me to the centre. I couldn’t believe it as they were pushing me against the wall and handcuffing me, and held my arm hard and marched me through the whole airport, passing hundreds of intrigued travellers until they told me to watch my head as I entered the police car. Just like in the movies. I can’t explain the anger, shock and despair I was feeling for those 30 min. we drove through Seattle, with the handcuffs grinding into my wrists, through fences and security points, realising slowly that I was basically going to jail. It was a detention centre, and as I entered, was searched again, I was given a package of food and put into a big white cell along with other women. They told me I’d be sharing a cell with them for the night and I asked who they were and what they had done, and they said that they didn’t know yet because they hadn’t processed them. I was so scared. The room was freezing and full of a white mist. I didn’t touch the food, but realised quickly what the officer had meant by the TV. High upon the ceiling in the corner of the room there was a small TV screen playing a Spanish Soap opera so loud it was echoing. I was terrified, and really down. The only woman who could speak English told me she had a few felons and that she had been inside for nine months and she didn’t know when she was getting out. Started getting scared that they wouldn’t actually pick me up the next day and take me back to the airport. The female officer saw me looking at my red wrists when my arms were free’d and she said “That’s normal.” And that she’d pick me up the next morning. None of this felt normal to me. During the night I was taken out of the cell four times, once to get information about what was going to happen during the night. Once to strip and put on one of their uniforms. Once to take a medical check, x-rays, urin tests and a conversation with a female doctor, who gave me the first kind word of the day, which lit up the rest of my horrible horrible night. Then to enrol, getting information leaflets, signing a lot of things, taken picture of, fingerprints, and been given a bracelet in case I would escape during a fire. Then when I finally got to sleep, only an hour later did I have to get up, change back to my clothes, check out and wait in a lone cell until I was picked up. A different female officer came, and she was rather rough with me during the search and rather rude. Back at the airport I was put in an office space, given the blue mattress, and after a while, allowed to have my teddy bear and a book. I waited from 8 in the morning till 6, during which I was refused to call anyone, until one of the officers escorted me upstairs to the food hall, where all the happy travellers were walking around freely with their possessions, probably going home or going on a holiday, or maybe, contrary to me, going to see their loved one, after a long wait and a long flight. I was allowed to buy food and I cried and begged the officer to let me contact my mother and let her know I was being flown to Frankfurt at 6. The officer arranged for me to do it, but they were watching that I didn’t mention my boyfriend or contact anyone else. I was escorted to the plane by the rudest of the female officers. She was spiteful, spoke in a broken English and informed me that I wouldn’t get my passport until I landed in Frankfurt, I had to get home to Norway on my own from there, and I wasn’t allowed to bring the phone on the plane with me. She was standing guard behind me while I was waiting among the sceptical passangers. And escorted me so that I would board the plane first, even before a woman in a wheelchair. Sitting on the plane I knew there would be at least 11 hours before I could talk to my boyfriend, and that I would have to spend a lot of money getting home. To just sit there, With my handluggage, clutching it With my possessions inside it, just to be able to touch them again, and to be treated With kind Words from fellow innocent human beings, and a lovely Kenyan man sitting NeXT to me, who asked me;
Are you okay?
How much it meant to me, and how I realised, even as an innocent person, from a wealthy country, never, never take Your freedom for granted.
Thanks for listening,