An Australian woman traveling through the US to Canada says she was detained by a border official and asked whether she had an abortion recently.
According to Guardian Australia, travel blogger Madolline Gourley, 30, was traveling from Australia to Canada where she planned to house- and cat-sit in exchange for accommodation while holidaying in the country.
She was detained in Los Angeles on June 30th when border officials became suspicious about why she was traveling to Canada.
Gourley told The Guardian she was treated like a criminal. After she was patted down, fingerprinted and photographed a border patrol agent asked her if she was pregnant. The agent asked again while they moved between rooms. When she said she was not pregnant, she was asked if she had an abortion recently.
“She was walking me from one room to the next, and she asked the pregnancy question again,” Gourley told The Guardian. “I don’t know if she had forgotten, or she wanted to work out if I was lying or something. “I said no, and she looked at me again and said, ‘Have you recently had an abortion?’
“I don’t know the thought process behind that … I just thought, ‘What’s the relevance of that to my situation?’”
Gourley was traveling to Canada on the visa waiver program that allows citizens from other countries, like Australia, to make short visits to the US for business or tourism, but not regular employment. A spokesperson for US Customs and Border Protection told The Guardian that the program prohibited applicants from engaging “in any type of employment or get compensation for services rendered”.
Gourley’s plan to house-and-cat sit in exchange for free accommodation breached the conditions of the program which led to her detention and subsequent deportation.
A CBP spokesperson said it took “allegations of unprofessional behaviour seriously” when asked about Gourley’s treatment. “CBP has standard procedures for handling allegations of misconduct. If we confirm employee misconduct, we will take firm and appropriate action to correct the situation.”