DFA will assist Filipina elderly allegedly mistreated in Seattle airport
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday that it will assist the 63-year-old Filipina who was allegedly mistreated by US immigration officials at the Seattle International Airport and then deported back to the Philippines.
“We stand ready to assist Filipino travelers who feel aggrieved over how foreign government agents treated them,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters in a press briefing Tuesday.
“We are ready to receive more details from the complainant and assist her through our office that handles Assistance to Nationals cases, the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs. Based on these specific details, we will move forward on this issue,” he said.
On October 1, 2013, Carina Yonzon Grande arrived in the US through Seattle International Airport to attend the wedding of her daughter Steph Grande this coming October 26. She said she has been to many countries all over the world and it was her 13th visit to the US.
Grande recalled that after going through the usual immigration procedure, she was told to go into a room for further questioning. There she was made to wait for six hours without food and water before immigration officials talked with her.
She said that she was repeatedly questioned why she was in the US and they even got her cellphone and then called up her relatives.
“I was confined in that small room for six long hours. Questions about the purpose of my visit to the US were asked repeatedly by Officer Keavid Mam in a very arrogant manner,” Grande said in an emailed statement from her future son-in-law, Ken Shaw.
“I was asked to give names and corresponding contact numbers. I gave the details of my daughter Steph and my grandson Josh, 21 years old. I was asked for more names, so I gave the name and number of my Aunt Nerissa, who is nearly 90 years old and the sister of my late mother,” she said.
The officials however accused her of lying because they claimed her aunt admitted that she was working as a caregiver and threatened her that she will be jailed if she does not tell the truth.
Eventually Grande was given a choice between being deported back to the country or being imprisoned and prevented from going back to the US for 5 years.
“Exhausted, hungry and sleep deprived, I chose option one. I knew that these people, who were accusing me without solid evidence, and who were relying on statements purportedly made by my Aunt Nerissa, would not accept any explanation from me,” she said.
Hernandez said that, despite this incident, millions of travelling Filipinos do not encounter such incidents.
“As a rule, we ask and expect all nations to treat Filipino travelers with respect and dignity and to observe international standards for the treatment of foreign nationals. By and large, millions of Filipinos travel with little or no incident,” he said.
“We still need to talk to her and get details about what happened to her,” Hernandez said.
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