This article originally appeared on VICE Canada
A 19-year-old woman visiting her mom in a Vancouver suburb had a nightmarish two-week stint in immigration detention added to her trip after she mistakenly crossed the Canada-US border while jogging.
As first reported by CBC, Cedella Roman says on May 21 she went for a scenic run along a beach in White Rock, a mid-size British Columbia community that borders Blaine, Washington. As the tides changed, Roman decided to veer onto a dirt path where she says two US border agents confronted her and accused her of illegally crossing the border.
The US and Canada share the longest border in the world, and at nearly 3,500 kilometres, most of it is unprotected and unmarked. The area Roman was jogging grabbed headlines in 2017 when anti-refugee policies in the US pushed a new stream of asylum seekers north.
Of course, as a student from France still working on her English, Roman had no idea about any of this. "I told him I had not done it on purpose, and that I didn't understand what was happening,” she told CBC, adding she didn’t encounter any signs indicating she was approaching an international border.
Instead of a fine or a warning, the border patrol officers took Roman into custody and brought her to a detention facility 200 kilometres away.
"They put me in the caged vehicles and brought me into their facility," she told CBC. "They asked me to remove all my personal belongings with my jewellery, they searched me everywhere. Then I understood it was getting very serious, and I started to cry a bit."
Roman’s mother brought her travel documents to authorities as soon as she learned her daughter was in immigration detention. But according to CBC, it was still two weeks before she was allowed to return to Canada.
Roman is not sure if she will ever be allowed to enter the US, but given the way she was treated, she may not want to return away.
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