Adelaide Woman Treated Like a Dog in US Detention Center – Illegal Mexican Invaders Treated Like Kings

Laura’s holiday nightmare

Chantelle Kroehn: The Messenger | July 2, 2008

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 rea ...

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