The United States border patrol officers at the Canadian border reportedly arrested an Australian tourist for overstaying his U.S. visa for a little over an hour.
Canberra native Baxter Reid was traveling to the Canadian border in upstate New York along with his American girlfriend, Heather Kancso. However, due to delays receiving clearance to enter the country, he breached his visa conditions by overstaying in U.S. for only 90 minutes.
Reid had a five-year U.S. visa, which meant he had to leave the country every six months till it was renewed.
“The U.S. Border Patrol ended up taking Baxter away, because after waiting for hours with the Canadians, he ... was illegally in the U.S. for a SINGLE HOUR,” lamented Kancso. “This is where all the real problems began: they threw Baxter in cuffs and escorted him to prison ... This is going to make a criminal out of an innocent man.”
He was detained and taken to the Buffalo Federal Detention Center, where he may have to wait for up to six months before a judge hears his case.
Kansco created a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal fees.
“This is a man who has no prior incidents with the law, not in the U.S. or his native Australia,” she wrote. “Now, because of bureaucracy and an unwillingness to listen to him he is being charged as felon under random immigration laws. Imagine going out of your way to comply with the law, and having the people who are meant to uphold it sabotage you and turn you into the criminal.”
According to Reid's father, Tom Reid, his son arrived at the Canadian border along with his girlfriend at 10 p.m. on Sunday, April 23 — Reid's visa was going to expire at midnight, April 24.
"For some reason the Canadians kept them until 1:30 a.m and then they refused them entry," he said. "They returned them to the United States and by then they were an hour and a half over the visa, and [he] got locked up."
For Kansco, it was tough to go through this ordeal, though she knew her boyfriend was dealing with the situation calmly.
“He just kept asking them if I could sit with him,” she recalled. "I held it together until they put the handcuffs on him. I kind of haven't been able to stop crying. I don't know if there's really a word to describe what I'm feeling right now, I'm almost ashamed to say I'm American. It just makes no sense to me.”
Reid’s girlfriend explained they had planned to reach the border earlier but the car kept breaking down, making the usual seven-hour drive from New York City as long as 15 hours.
"This has been the longest we've been apart," she lamented. "I'm more than willing to go back to [Australia] as soon as he gets out."
While Reid wanted to go back to Australia eventually, he definitely didn’t want to get deported.
“He doesn’t want to get deported – he still wants to go back to the U.S., because that’s where his girlfriend lives,” Reid’s brother explained. “He’s just an easygoing guy who has been traveling with his girlfriend and now he’s locked up and doesn’t know what’s happening. It can be a bit distressful for everyone.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed they were providing assistance to an Australian man detained in the U.S., but couldn't provide further details citing privacy reasons.