Woman Held In Detention Center For 2 Weeks After Accidentally Crossing US Border While Jogging

Woman Held In Detention Center For 2 Weeks After Accidentally Crossing US Border While Jogging

Nineteen-year-old French tourist Cedella Romana went out for an evening jog while she was in Canada, which led to her being put in a US detention center more than 125 miles away (201 kilometers) for two weeks.

Roman was on an evening jog in White Rock, near Vancouver, when she illegally entered the United States accidentally. Roman said she had not seen any signs or markings along the border as she ran along a beach before going down a path to take photos of the sunset. This was when she was apprehended by two border patrol agents. “[Border Patrol] started telling me that I had crossed the border illegally and I told him that I really did not do it on purpose” Roman said.

Roman was threatened with a five-year ban from the United States after the officers told her she would not be released as she was caught on surveillance cameras. “I thought, maybe I’ve crossed the border, but maybe they’ll just fine me or they’ll say ‘come back to Canada’ or berate me a little bit,” Roman said.

As Roman was on an evening run, she was carrying no identification, which only made her situation worse. She was transferred to a detention center in Tacoma, approximately 125 miles south of where she was stopped by border patrol officers.

“They put me in the caged vehicles and brought me into their facility. They asked me to remove all my belongings, as well as my jewellery; they searched me completely. That’s where I realised it was really serious and I started to cry a little.”

Upon arriving at the Department of Homeland Security holding facility, Roman was able to call her mother who brought Roman’s passport and study permits to prove her identity. Unfortunately, Roman had to wait for Canadian immigration to validate the documentation, which took two weeks. “It was just unfair that there was nothing, no sign at the border,” Roman’s mother said. “It’s like a trap … anybody can be caught at the border like this.”

Roman was released on June 6th, after being held at the detention center for two weeks, when authorities were satisfied her story was true.