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Holidaying Australian woman detained in Hawaii, accused of immigration scam

19 Mai 2017

Ms Hill says her luggage was searched and immigration officials told her they understood she had an American boyfriend.

Molly Hill and her boyfriend Ross Maidl were heading to Hawaii for a holiday.

"In the end they were convinced I wanted to immigrate illegally because my diary had notes like "going away drinks" and "last day at work", things I got in order before expecting to be away for three months", she wrote.

She said after that, she was given a "full screening" - which entails being made to strip down, put her clothes in a box, then "cough and squat" in front of them.

She also says officers asked questions about her tattoos and whether any of them were "gang-related".

"(I) expected to pass through customs without too much hassle as I was going on a tourist visa for 88 days, the max is 90, with my return ticket paid for", Hill wrote on Facebook. Officers then handed her a blanket and a brown paper bag with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich inside, and hustled her into the women's prison. It was her birthday.

It appeared the prison officers were slightly sympathetic to her plight, saying she was "unlucky" and joked that she should have fallen in love with a Canadian. The incident took place at the Honolulu airport.

"The next morning it was my birthday". I remained in handcuffs and was escorted throughout the airport. I was woken up by a flashlight and an officer who yelled "Hill!"

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'They said "you're getting released".' I was supposed to be spending the day with my boyfriend, but I was still detained'. By that point I was so exhausted I just wanted to get home'. "Then I was finally allowed to call home, and had to pay $620 for a flight to Sydney".

Hill said the ordeal was surreal and took "a big chunk of money, heartache and tears".

She had quit her marketing job before the trip, in line with her former employer's policy on extended holidays. If you take more than six or seven weeks you need to resign.

Ms Sarkissian said she was shattered when she saw the Facebook post detailing the horror ordeal, and had plans to hire Hill again when she returned if there was an opening in the company.

When asked by BuzzFeed News why she was traveling with such documents, Hill said: "Those documents are always in that folder at home, I have my current vehicle loan info and reference numbers etc for anything I might have needed to sort out during my time away".

"The reason I travelled was to spend time with him", she said.

In a statement made to 9 News, US Customs and Border Protection said their initial investigation showed "US offices acted according to current laws and regulations".

Holidaying Australian woman detained in Hawaii, accused of immigration scam