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A 23-year-old traveller was strip-searched and detained over an entry requirement to the United States he wasn't aware of before he started his trip.
Jack Dunn set off from his home in Australia in May after spending more than half a year saving up for his trip, with plans to travel to the US to watch the NBA playoffs before heading to Mexico and South America.
He began by boarding a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, but his trip took an unexpected turn almost immediately after he landed at 6am on 5 May.
Instead of being able to enter the US as planned, Jack was interrogated by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer who refused to let him continue his journey due to the fact he hadn't booked onward travel beyond Mexico.
He didn't have access to the internet, so wasn't able to transfer money from his savings when given the chance to book an onward flight. When he tried to book a cheaper flight with the money in his current account, a CBP officer is said to have entered the interrogation room and ordered an airline worker to take the phone he was using back, Jack claimed.
Though Jack had plans to leave the US, the fact his next country bordered the US meant it wasn't sufficient for the CBP officers.
He was denied entry because he did not 'possess a ticket, valid for at least one year to any foreign place/port other than a contiguous territory or adjacent island unless they permanently reside there', The Guardian reports.
This particular entry requirement is not listed on the US embassy’s website, or the US government website.
Approximately six hours after he first landed, Jack was handcuffed and taken to the Federal Detention Center where he was told to strip naked before having his anus and the area under his scrotum searched twice.
He had no access to his phone, and is said to have been issued an orange prison uniform and placed in a cell with a prisoner who had smeared blood and faeces on the wall.
Meanwhile, his parents had been told by authorities in the US that Jack was safe, but were not allowed to talk to him or hear details about what he was going through. His family has filed a complaint with the CBP about Jack's treatment and the behaviour of one of the officers in the wake of the incident.
Speaking about his experience in prison, Jack said: “Once the police dropped me off, you’re in a prison, so the guards and inmates there have no idea what you’re there for, they just assume this kid has done something bad. They treat you like a criminal, they treat you like s**t.”
A CBP spokesperson said people travelling under the Visa Waiver Program must "have a round-trip ticket that would transport the traveler out of the United States to any other foreign port or place as long as the trip does not terminate in contiguous territory or an adjacent island; except that the round-trip ticket may transport the traveler to contiguous territory or an adjacent island, if the traveler is a resident of the country of destination."
“In addition, applicants should be able to demonstrate access to sufficient funds to support themselves for the intended period of their stay and to proof [sic] sufficient ties or equities to the home country,” the spokesperson told The Guardian.
Jack spent a total of about 30 hours in the detention centre before taken back to the airport and put on a flight to Sydney. When he later tried to go on a different holiday in Thailand, he experienced several panic attacks and had to return home. He remains adamant the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should list the entry requirement on their website.
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