Icelandic woman mistreated at JFK, shackled and deported

This is hair-raisingly scary:
Iceland complains to US about treatment of tourist in New York:

REYKJAVIK, Iceland: Iceland’s government has asked the U.S. ambassador to explain the treatment of an Icelandic tourist who says she was held in shackles before being deported from the United States.
The woman, Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl, 33, was arrested Sunday when she arrived at JFK airport in New York because she had overstayed a U.S. visa more than 10 years earlier.
Lillendahl, 33, had planned to shop and sightsee with friends, but endured instead what she has claimed was the most humiliating experience of her life.
She contended she was interrogated at JFK airport for two days, during which she was not allowed to call relatives. She said she was denied food and drink for part of the time, and was photographed and fingerprinted.
On Monday, Lillendahl claimed, her hands and feet were chained and she was moved to a prison in New Jersey, where she was kept in a cell, interrogated further and denied access to a phone.
She was deported Tuesday, she told reporters and wrote on her Internet blog.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir told U.S. Ambassador Carol van Voorst that the treatment of Lillendahl was unacceptable.
“In a case such as this, there can be no reason to use shackles” Gisladottir said. “If a government makes a mistake, I think it is reasonable for it to apologize, like anyone else.”
Van Voorst has contacted the officials at JFK airport and asked them to provide a report on Lillendahl’s case, Gisladottir said.


During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned. Now I am beginning to try to understand all this, rest and review the events which beganas innocently as possible.

A young blonde Icelandic woman’s recent experience visiting the US:

I was then made to wait while they sought further information, and sat on a chair before the authority for 5 hours. I saw the officials in this section handle other cases and it was clear that these were men anxious to demonstrate their power. Small kings with megalomania. I was careful to remain completely cooperative, for I did not yet believe that they planned to deport me because of my “crime”.

Creeping fascism. Check out the willing executioners in the comments.
I hope she sues and I hope that all those JFK creeps who use uniforms as penile enhancement props get fired, jailed and shackled, while their mugs and names grace the cover pages of every newspaper in the country and the world.
(via Digby via Pandagon).

5 responses to “Icelandic woman mistreated at JFK, shackled and deported

  1. Ravi Pilarisety

    I’ve experienced this same excessive treatment from immigration myself. It is very sad for your country that people like me who just want to share knowledge are treated like criminals. When you come to India, we treat you all like honored guests and our officials are punished if they mistreat foreigners. In fact, I would say foreigners get treated better at Indian airports than locals. Personally, I avoid travel to the US like the plague.

  2. Who would she sue? I’m under the impression that doing this to foreigners entering USA is perfectly legal. That is, they can be detained indefinitely, without pretty much any rights, including any phone calls or legal representation. Personally, I’d think twice before traveling to USA for any reason.

  3. My sleep specialist, a (white) northern european prof of psychiatry, feels very uncomfortable entering and leaving the USA. He’s cut down on trips to conferences etc there to just two in 2007. He feels that the American meetings and conferences will continue to decrease in international importance because of such concerns. American isolationism is thus not just internally determined. If international expertise won’t travel to the US, the Americans will only be meeting each other unless they travel. I should think the same tendency exists in a great many other fields than just sleep research.

  4. I’ve been to several scientific meetings at which one or more European speakers was prevented from entering the US (undoubtedly for some ridiculous reason), and was thus unable to present his or her talk. As an American, I find this embarrassing, and I’m convinced that it will continue to harm research collaborations and exchange of knowledge. Also, Brazil’s “turn about is fair play” approach to customs is perfectly reasonable; I’ve heard other American travelers grouse about waiting in lines while EU citizens go through quickly, and this bizarre sense of entitlement embarrasses me as well.
    OTOH, I’d like to point out that our own Border Patrol agents routinely use “penile enhancement props” on the not-blonde citizens of Mexico and the US alike, and almost no one bats an eyelash about it. Perhaps if one lives within the US, far from the Mexican border, it’s easy to ignore these obscene abuses. Or perhaps it has something to do with the facts that the victims are not “young blonde Icelandic women”, and that they don’t have internet access or blogs.

  5. Twice I’ve been stopped at immigration, and on one of those occasions taken for further questioning (fortunately my husband was allowed to come with me). The reason? I “violated the terms of my visa”. What had actually happened was that I voluntarily withdrew from my American PhD programme. My visa was cancelled. But because US Immigration cannot conceive of a non-criminal reason for cancelling a visa, the computer flags up all “cancelled without penalty” or CWOP visitors as having committed some offence.
    This is very disturbing, because not only does it mean people who have voluntarily returned to their home countries before the end of their visas are flagged up (I quit the programme because I was assaulted by my supervisor, but surely many must quit because they get a good job offer in their home country, or a close relative dies and they have to return indefinitely to look after the family, et etc), but any poor sod who does badly in their exams and fails out of university is treated as a criminal too.
    Fortunately for me, once I was in the other room (in floods of tears and absolutely terrified) the immigration officer dealing with me knew exactly what was going on and immediately stamped my passport and allowed me through. But my husband heard her say to a colleague “This is happening way too often. And it’s putting people off coming here. This needs to stop”.
    If the USA cannot distinguish between students who have voluntarily withdrawn or failed out of a programme, and those who have had their visa revoked through criminal activity, then this will eventually put international students (and presumably postdocs, professors, other academics and general visitors) off visiting the USA.
    Over two and a half years later, I get seriously worked up going through US immigration. I try to give myself a bit of a holiday before or after the SVP conference each year, but I can’t relax and any part of the holiday until I am safely through immigration – I used to love the excitement of flying. If it wasn’t so important to me to attend these conferences I wouldn’t put myself through the stress.