US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has told BuzzFeed News that Melbourne woman Molly Hill, whose Facebook post about her attempt to visit the US went viral mid-week, was rightfully detained and sent back to Australia by border officials.
Hill, 26, quit her job and flew to Honolulu on Monday, May 15.
In a lengthy status to her Facebook, she said she had been detained, strip searched, and kept in a "women's prison" upon arrival in the US, before being put back on a plane to Australia. Hill said she had been trying to enter the US and stay for 88 days on a tourist visa.
"The max [amount of time you can visit] is 90 days," she wrote. "My return ticket [was] paid for."
Hill said she was attempting to visit her American boyfriend, but was interrogated for six hours and sent to a detention centre upon her arrival at Honolulu airport.
She claimed officials told her they believed she was attempting to immigrate illegally because her diary had notes such as "going away for drinks" and "last day at work".
"[These were] things I got in order before expecting to be away for three months," wrote Hill.
Sources close to the case have told BuzzFeed News Hill was travelling with her birth certificate, old passports, college transcripts and training certificates in her luggage – leading border patrol officials to believe she may have intended to get married in the US.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection acted with respect, integrity, professionalism and according to current federal law when Molly Joan Hill, an Australian citizen, presented herself for CBP inspection at Honolulu International Airport May 15," said a statement from CBP to BuzzFeed News.
"Hill applied for admission as a visitor for pleasure (which means that she is only eligible to stay in the United States for a brief period of time) under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
"However, upon inspection, CBP officers found that Hill presented conflicting information and was determined to be inadmissible under the VWP. She was advised that she is no longer eligible for admission under the VWP and must obtain a valid, unexpired visa prior to subsequent entries to the U.S."
When asked by BuzzFeed News why she was travelling with such documents, Hill said: “Those documents are always in that folder at home, I have my current car loan info and reference numbers etc for anything I might have needed to sort out during my time away.
"My housemate was looking after my dog and and I needed her rspca documents in case I needed to have that info handy. I explained to customs that I have lived out of home since I was 18 and I look after all my own personal documents.”
Hill said she and her boyfriend had "discussed" marriage, but were not planning to wed during this trip.
"The reason I travelled was to spend time with him," she said. "Obviously we are dating seriously if we’re making trips to see each other. Marriage has been discussed in conversation as a possibility in the future. But [it] wasn’t relevant to this trip, and the future would depend on how the trip went. We were going to attend his friend’s wedding in July, I believe that was misunderstood by [CPB]."
BuzzFeed New has contacted US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Hill's boyfriend for comment.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
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