Laura’s holiday nightmare
A WESTERN suburbs (Adelaide) woman who was stuck in US detention centres for nearly three weeks over an entry card mix-up says she was treated worse than the illegal Mexican immigrants with whom she shared a holding cell.
Laura McKenzie, 21, says she had to eat food with her hands, sleep on a concrete floor and, unlike the Mexicans, she was not given a proper chance to explain her situation.
Ms McKenzie, who has worked as an aerobics instructor at a Royal Park gym (formerly Zest – now Goodlife), is waiting for a US court hearing next week when she is expected to be issued with documents to allow her to fly back to Australia.
She was released from the Willacy Detention Centre, Texas, on June 11 and has spent the past three weeks in California and Nevada.
In an email to the Weekly Times Messenger, she outlined her ordeal, which started when US border control officers in Texas found her with an expired border entry card on May 23. “I was heading across Texas on a bus from Houston to El Paso, when a border control officer questioned me in a random inspection,” she said. “Next thing I knew I was dragged off the bus and thrown in the back of a police wagon. (It was) very, very scary as nothing was ever really explained to me.”
Ms McKenzie was placed in a holding cell in Texas with 20 illegal immigrants who had swum across the Rio Grande River to get from Mexico into the US.
She said her border entry card was invalid because, unknown to her, it was activated when she touched down briefly in Hawaii last November on her way to Canada.
It was not explained to her that even though she flew straight to Canada, never leaving Honolulu airport, the touchdown was enough to start the clock ticking on her six month pass. After working at a Canadian ski resort for nearly six months she returned to the US to travel but her card was not renewed by the US Customs officer, which would have allowed her to stay for six weeks.
“By the time I left New York my card had expired without me realising it. I assumed as I’d been admitted into the country that I was allowed to be there for the intended six weeks.” Ms McKenzie said she was not given a proper chance to explain her story and never met her case officers.
“I was treated worse than all the Mexicans/South Americans who had come over here to live illegally as they were given interviews and a chance to explain.
“Not me. I just got shoved in with them and it was assumed I, too, had been living here illegally for six to seven months.”
She spent time at three different detentions places including the Willacy Detention Center, in Texas.
“The conditions at Willacy were horrible open toilets and showers, no deodorant provided when it was over 40 degrees. Sometimes the cutlery wouldn’t show up with dinner so we’d eat spaghetti with our fingers.”
She said her family had racked up about $20,000 in extra costs and she has had to cancel a working holiday in England. “I got offered an amazing job in a pub/hotel on the River Thames, which I have had to pass up as I just don’t have the money to continue.”
Typical bloody US government. They go out of their way to treat third world aliens with a bit of decency, but couldn’t give two shits about a White person who is wrongly locked away in their detention cells – But then, you also have to place part of the blame on the Australian government, which only goes out of its way to help when it’s another drug dealing, non-White that has wrongfully become an Australian citizen and gained their protection.