Icelandic woman Erla Ósk Arnardóttir Lilliendahl said she received poor treatment when she traveled to New York on Sunday. She said she was interrogated at JFK airport, transferred to prison and deported after 24 hours due to an earlier visa violation.
Lilliendahl told Morgunbladid she never objected to leaving the country, but is dissatisfied with the treatment she received.
“Many seem to think that I’m some paranoid housewife who wouldn’t accept being thrown out of the US. But that’s just not the case. I never objected to being deported, just to the things that happened until I was put onboard the plane returning to Iceland,” Lilliendahl said.
According to Lilliendahl, she had to undergo a physical examination in the prison, answer humiliating questions, did not receive any food or drink for 14 hours, was not permitted to make any phone calls and her family was made to believe she was still at the airport.
“If this description is accurate, our behavior towards Miss Arnardóttir was certainly unacceptable and US authorities should apologize to her immediately,” Eugene R. Fidell, who lectures at the law department at Yale University, told Morgunbladid.
The reason for this ordeal is that Lilliendahl stayed in the US for three weeks beyond her permitted visa stay in 1995. She visited the US again in 1995-1996.
Lilliendahl said she had therefore not been aware that her violation had been that serious. “I would naturally have taken the necessary precautions [before traveling to the US again] if I had realized that,” Lilliendahl said.
She should have applied for a special visa, according to information from the US Embassy in Reykjavík.
When approached by Morgunbladid, spokesperson for the US Customs and Border Protection Janet Rapaport said that she could not comment on individual cases.