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article imageEvening jog on B.C. beach leads to two weeks in U.S. detention

By Karen Graham     Jun 22, 2018 in Politics
Nineteen-year-old Cedella Roman, a French citizen staying in Canada, was jogging in White Rock, B.C. when she was stopped by two U.S. border patrol officers. She ended up spending two weeks in a detention center because she had entered the U.S. illegally.
Cedella Roman, a French citizen, was visiting her mother in North Delta, B.C. and studying English. The family had headed to White Rock, about an hour’s drive from Vancouver in May.
As evening approached, the 19-year-old went for a jog along the beach. When she noticed the tide was coming in, she swerved to a dirt path before stopping to take a picture of the panoramic scene before her. As she turned around to head back, she was confronted by two officers from the US border patrol.
She was not carrying any government-issued ID or travel permits on her.
“An officer stopped me and started telling me I had crossed the border illegally,” Roman told Radio-Canada, reports the Guardian. “I told him I hadn’t done it on purpose, and that I didn’t understand what was happening.”
A photo taken of White Rock pier and the surrounding environs  from an elevated parking lot nearby.
A photo taken of White Rock pier and the surrounding environs, from an elevated parking lot nearby.
Roman didn't know at the time - but as she jogged southeast along the beach on the evening of May 21, she crossed a municipal border with the City of Surrey, and shortly after that, crossed the Canada-U.S. border.
The young woman told the officers she hadn't seen any signs warning that she was crossing into the U.S. - but the Border Patrol officers told her she had been seen on security cameras monitoring the area.
According to CBC Canada, Roman said: "I said to myself, well I may have crossed the border — but they'll probably only give me a fine or they'll tell me to go back to Canada or they'll give me a warning."
However, the officers detained her for illegally crossing into Blaine, Washington. She was then transferred to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Centre, run by the Department of Homeland security, more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of where she had been apprehended.
“They put me in the caged vehicles and brought me into their facility,” said Roman. “They asked me to remove all my personal belongings with my jewelry. They searched me everywhere.” It was then the seriousness of the situation hit her. “I understood it was getting very serious and I started to cry a bit.”
Tacoma Detention Center is a private immigration prison located on the tide flats of the Port of Tac...
Tacoma Detention Center is a private immigration prison located on the tide flats of the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Washington, USA. The prison is operated by the GEO Group on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Department of Homeland Security/ICE
She was able to get hold of her mother, Christiane Ferne, who immediately rushed to the center. She brought with her Roman’s passport and study permits. But even these documents were not enough. Staff at the detention center said the documents would have to be validated by Canadian immigration authorities before Roman could be released.
It took all of two weeks before immigration officials on both sides of the border confirmed she was allowed back into Canada. Then she was transferred back into B.C.
“It was just unfair that there was nothing, no sign at the border,” said Ferne. “It’s like a trap … anybody can be caught at the border like this.” Roman was discharged on 6 June, however, the family doesn't know if Roman will ever be allowed back into the U.S.
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that "anyone who enters into the U.S. outside an official port of entry and without inspection has crossed the border illegally, and will be processed accordingly. This applies regardless of whether or not the individual claims to have inadvertently crossed the border."
More about Canada, Washington state, french citizen, border ptrol, Evin House Detention Facility
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