Author: Yahoo News UK
A British tourist claims she was held by US immigration officials for 24 hours then deported and banned from entering the country over a two-year-old text about cocaine found on her phone.
Isabella Brazier-Jones, 28, said she was on a trip of a lifetime to Los Angeles with her best friend when the nightmare happened.
She said the pair had spent £3,500 on flights, accommodation and car rental on a holiday that involved a month in LA and a month in New York.
But she claimed when they flew to Los Angeles on March 12, immigration officials pulled her into a back room, confiscated her belongings and scoured her phone – finding a message sent in 2017 that referred to cocaine.
“They told me that there was a message on my phone referring to cocaine,” she said. They asked if I had taken cocaine and I said yes.”
Isabella claims she was escorted onto a plane back to the UK by two armed officers just 31 hours after she landed on American soil and has been banned from returning to the US for ten years.
She said both she and Olivia had quit their jobs for the trip and obtained Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) permits, which allow travellers to stay in the US for up to 90 days without requiring VISAs.
But she claims immigration officials at passport control became suspicious of her travel plans and both she and Olivia were taken to Secondary Inspection where they were questioned on their plans and how they were planning to finance them.
While Olivia was told she was free to enter the US, Isabella said her phone, suitcase and passport were confiscated and she was taken to a deportation centre.
She said: “As soon as you enter that room, you are not allowed anything – no food, no phone calls.
“I was held in a group cell with four other women. If you have any queries you are told to shut up and sit down.
“I was with a Lithuanian woman, two Mexican ladies and a Turkish lady.
“The room was divided in the middle and it was women on one side and men on the other.”
She claims she went through eight interrogations in a windowless room and her belongings were searched.
She said officials told her they’d found text messages referring to drug use, from two years ago and she admitted trying cocaine in 2017.
“Because I admitted to taking cocaine they charged me with possession of drugs and deported me.”
She added: “I am concerned that natural human empathy has been lost as officials follow Trump’s directions.
“I really want to open people’s eyes.
“This treatment is applied to Mexicans and Muslims but it’s also becoming a mass situation.
“I think they took against me because I was a posh, white blonde girl.
“I lost £3,500 that I spent on flights, insurance, accommodation, renting a car, doing up my flat to rent it out.
“I think Michael Gove will have no problem going to the US in the future. As long as you are in a position of power, you can get around any law.”
Representatives at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Dept of Homeland Security, the British Consulate in Los Angeles and Norwegian Airlines all declined to comment on her case.