The abusive “extreme vetting” tactics of immigration officials at U.S. airports claimed two more victims this week. The story of Colombian sisters Laura and Dayana Gómez, 11 and 20, respectively, is particularly disturbing.
The two sisters—who are both applying to become U.S. citizens—traveled to Boston’s Logan International Airport on Wednesday to visit their mother and stepfather, who live in the U.S., NBC Boston reports. Upon arrival, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents detained them for an interrogation that lasted 36 hours and ended up sending 11-year-old Laura Gómez to the hospital for severe stomach pains. Both were sent back to Colombia on Friday.
Immigration attorney Heather Yountz told The Boston Globe, “This is not like anything that I’ve seen before.”
According to the Globe:
The girls didn’t see their mother and stepfather until Thursday, when Laura suffered severe stomach pain and was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, Yountz said.
Their mother and stepfather were allowed to visit the hospital. But they could not use their cell phones and a border agent stood outside the room, she said.
Yountz told NBC the ordeal is the “perfect example” of how the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies “can go terribly wrong.”
The two sisters, who have dual citizenship in Colombia and Spain, both had return tickets to fly back to South America from the U.S. When they were detained for questioning, the Gómez sisters had no access to an attorney for several hours, and their parents were unable to immediately see them.
After Laura Gómez was released from the hospital, she was returned to the airport along with her sister for even more questioning.
“Is that this is what enhanced screening looks like? You have a young girl being detained for more than 36 hours?” Yountz said, according to the Globe.
The CPB would not comment on this case, NBC Boston reports, stating only, “It is important to note that issuance of a visa or a visa waiver does not guarantee entry to the United States.”