Aussie tourist warns of US border rule that got him strip-searched and thrown in jail

An Australian vacationer has issued a warning to fellow travellers after falling foul of a US Immigration rule which noticed him strip-searched and thrown in jail for 30 hours.

Jack Dunn, a 23-year-old scholar from the state of Victoria, had booked a free, impartial journey by way of the US and Central America – planning to work his means by way of Hawaii and the US earlier than shifting on to Mexico.

Mr Dunn deliberate to maintain his travels versatile, reserving hostels and buses as he went alongside.

He arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 5 Could 2022, and was checked over by the US’s notoriously strict Customs and Border Safety (CBP).

The official who greeted him requested if Jack had a aircraft ticket to go away the US on the finish of his journey, to which he stated he had an onward aircraft ticket to Mexico.

An immigration staffer then pulled him apart, saying “You’re going to have to come back with me”.

Mr Dunn was getting into the nation below the Visa Waiver Programme (generally known as Esta to most within the UK). Underneath the programme, you have to have a ticket booked again in another country – however to not a border nation neighbouring the US.

Not figuring out this small-print rule, Mr Dunn says he was held for hours for questioning, throughout which an airline employee within the airport supplied him his telephone to permit him to e-book a aircraft ticket there after which.

He says officers didn’t seem to even take into account that it might have been an harmless mistake.

“He clearly felt sorry for me and he was like ‘we simply have to point out them that you simply’ve bought one other ticket booked out of America and then you definitely’ll be fantastic,’” Mr Dunn advised Information.com.au.

He tried to e-book a flight on to Panama, “however that was $500, and I didn’t have that in my account – then I used to be attempting to elucidate to the officer that I simply wanted web entry to switch cash throughout,” Jack stated.

“She appeared baffled I had cash in two separate accounts however I’ve at all times finished that.”

In a transcript of the immigration interview seen by Information.com.au, it says Jack was unable to “overcome the presumption of an supposed immigrant”.

“You don’t have any ties or equities to your private home nation or adequate funds to assist your self to your supposed interval of keep,” stated the officer within the interview.

Mr Dunn was then handcuffed and brought to the “scary” Federal Detention Centre in Honolulu, the place he was strip-searched, along with his scrotum and anus inspected for contraband.

He says he was imprisoned for 30 hours in complete whereas he waited for the flight that may ship him again to Sydney.

“Once you’re not in your personal nation you don’t have any management over what’s going to occur to you so I used to be form of pondering I’d by no means get out,” he says.

He slept on a concrete ground, utilizing a sandwich in a paper bag as a pillow, and shared a room with one other inmate.

“He talked to himself and punched the partitions. I used to be frightened about that so I attempted to remain awake so long as I might,” says Mr Dunn.

“I used to be simply anxious the entire time.

“You don’t actually know what time of the day it’s so you don’t understand how lengthy you’ve been there or once you’re presupposed to get picked up.

“It felt prefer it had been too lengthy however it’s simply since you’re mendacity there doing nothing.”

He advised reporters one jail guard had requested what he was in for. “They didn’t know so they only thought I used to be a felony.”

In the meantime, Jack couldn’t contact his circle of relatives again in Australia – his father obtained a name from CBP officers saying Jack was protected however refusing to offer any extra info.

“Fearful and imagining the worst doable situations, my spouse, Melissa, and I didn’t know what to assume,” says his father, Matt Dunn.

“Was it a rip-off? Had he turn into an unwilling or unwitting drug mule?”

A CBP spokesperson stated they may not talk about a person’s processing, however reiterated the border rule that Jack had damaged by mistake.

“Underneath the Visa Waiver Program, candidates should have a round-trip ticket that may transport the traveller out of the US to another overseas port or place so long as the journey doesn’t terminate in contiguous territory or an adjoining island; besides that the round-trip ticket might transport the traveller to contiguous territory or an adjoining island, if the traveller is a resident of the nation of vacation spot,” stated the spokesperson.

“As well as, candidates ought to give you the option show entry to adequate funds to assist themselves for the supposed interval of their keep and to show adequate ties or equities to the house nation.”

The spokesperson additionally clarified that travellers who break this rule should “return in the identical air service [by which] they arrived,” and shall be detained if there’s not an instantaneous flight again – therefore Mr Dunn’s lengthy wait on the Detention Centre.

“This wait time might take a number of hours and in some airports that shut their operations in a single day the traveller is transported to an area detention facility and introduced again to the airport when a returned seat is secured,” they added.

“CBP officers attempt to deal with all travellers with respect and in knowledgeable matter. CBP regrets any inconvenience or unpleasantness a passenger might have skilled throughout his/her CBP processing. We take allegations of unprofessional behaviour severely.”

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