A British tourist travelling to Los Angeles claims she was held for 24 hours, deported and banned from entering the US for ten years because immigration officials found a two-year-old text about cocaine on her phone.
Isabella Brazier-Jones, 28, from Shepherd's Bush, West London, says she flew to the Californian city on March 12 for the trip of a lifetime with her best friend Olivia Cura, 26.
The two Brits, who met while studying at the prestigious acting school RADA, say they spent £3,500 on flights, accommodation and car rental in preparation for their planned holiday - one month in L.A.
And one month in New York City.
But they claim that their travel plans were obliterated when immigration officials became suspicious about the length of time Isabella intended to stay in the country.Isabella claims officials pulled her into a back room, confiscated her belongings and scoured her phone - discovering a message sent in 2017, where she had referenced the Class A drug cocaine.
The budding actress and playwright said: "They told me that there was a message on my phone referring to cocaine.
"They asked if I had taken cocaine and I said yes."Isabella claims she was escorted onto a plane back to the U.K. by two armed officers, just 31 hours after she landed on American soil.
She insisted that she and Olivia, a youth worker, had no intention of working in the US and instead wanted to "have an adventure".
Representatives at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Dept of Homeland Security, the British Consulate in Los Angeles and Norwegian Airlines all declined to comment on her case.
Isabella said: "We didn't want to go over there for work but we wanted to have an adventure, see what lies out there, see what the scene was like."Our main desire was just to go and have a bit of fun in a cultural environment that we thought might apply to us down the line.
"Luckily I own a two-bedroom flat in Shepherd's Bush so I put it up for rent to get some money to pay for the trip." The friends say they had both endured painful breakups and mental health issues and had planned the trip to cheer themselves up.
"We had the idea about six months before we left and we went to town on planning the trip in the new year," she said.
"It was on our bucket list and it became a light at the end of the tunnel after break ups and mental health issues.
"We both quit our jobs - I was working as a private chef and Olivia had been working as a youth worker.
"I did up my flat and rented it out to make some money for the trip.
"We uprooted our lives basically." They claim they both obtained Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) permits, which allow travelers to stay in the US for up to 90 days without requiring VISAs.An ESTA costs around £9 and must be applied for at least 72 hours before flying to the US.
But immigration officials at passport control became suspicious of Isabella's travel plans.
She said: "I was asked the generic questions such as where I was staying and they didn't like the answers I was giving.
"I felt very sweaty in the situation." Both Isabella and Olivia were taken to Secondary Inspection where immigration officials "grilled" Isabella on her finances.
She said: "I'm a really small, blonde girl who looks very young.
"You couldn't see a more cute little girl and I was finding the whole thing quite comical at first because I've never been put in a corner that way before.
"I was kind of chuckling along, but it turned very serious when it came to my finances.
"They were asking how I was going to afford the trip and they didn't like that I had rented out my flat." Officials reportedly didn't believe that Isabella had enough money in her bank account to finance her two-month stay.
She said: "I showed them my bank statements on my phone.
"I had to squeeze my hand through the tiny partition in the glass wall to log in to my bank statements.
"I had just managed to pay off my mortgage and I showed them three different bank accounts.
"I had about £3,500 but they weren't convinced that was enough money.
"I had a source of income from renting out my flat and I had already spent £3,500 on the trip."Isabella also alleges that the officials interrogated her on her love life.
She said: "They asked me if I was single and at the time I was seeing someone.
"They questioned me about why my boyfriend wasn't with me and whether the relationship was going to last.
"They asked me if I was interested in finding someone in America."An hour later Olivia was told that she was free to enter the US, but Isabella claims her phone, suitcase and passport were confiscated and she was taken to a deportation centre.
She said: "As soon as you enter that room, you are not allowed anything - no food, no phone calls.
"I was held in a group cell with four other women.
"If you have any queries you are told to shut up and sit down.
"I was with a Lithuanian woman, two Mexican ladies and a Turkish lady.
"The room was divided in the middle and it was women on one side and men on the other.
"There was strip lighting and two camp beds on our side and the TV played constant R&B music videos.
"It was torture.
"I had to wait for about five hours before I even got my first round of interrogation.
"It was repeated over and over again." Isabella estimated that she went through "eight interrogations" in a windowless room and each one lasted between 30 minutes and an hour.
She said: "I was questioned by several different immigration officials, both male and female."I was body searched and I had to sign some documents.
"I hadn't slept, I hadn't eaten, I couldn't focus.
"I was really terrified.
"I felt blurry and manic.
"They went through all of my things as though I was hiding bullets in the seams of my dresses.
"They searched my phone and pulled up messages from when I was at RADA doing a play about New York.
"It was ridiculous.
"They were searching for anything that they could to prosecute me.
"Anybody who has an understanding of the justice system will know that it is wrong to question someone in such an intense environment when they have had no sleep and no food.
"There's nothing you can do unless you comply with what they want and they wanted me to get out of the country." During the final interrogation, Isabella claimed that officials told her they'd found text messages referring to drug use, from two years ago.
She said: "You never see the messages or the emails that they say they are referring to.
"They started referencing messages on my phone that they had found about drugs.
"I was stumped then and I am stumped now about what message they were talking about.
"I have friends who go out partying and friends who are in recovery who have messaged me about drug use.
"I have messages that mention someone needing coke and I have messages saying 'did you take coke last night?'
"I just don't know what message they found or were referring to and they never told me."They coaxed me into admitting that I had tried a line of cocaine in 2017.
"Because I admitted to taking cocaine they charged me with possession of drugs and deported me.
"They told me I have now have a ten-year ban from entering the US."I was escorted back onto a plane by two armed police officers." In the meantime, Olivia had checked into a hotel in LA and contacted her lawyer father, Simon Cheetham QC, begging him to help Isabella.
Olivia, from Wimbledon, Southwest London, said: "We landed in LAX at 5pm and I sat around the airport until one in the morning waiting for Isabella.
"I had tried desperately to speak to officials and finally I called my dad.
"He called the British Consulate in Los Angeles.
"Everything was under Isabella's name so I was pretty screwed without her.
"Eventually I booked into the nearest hotel and I was expecting to fall asleep and wake up to her calling me.
"Instead the British Consulate called me and told me that Isabella was getting deported.
"It didn't cross my mind to stay.
"I just wanted to get her home and get the f*** out of America.
"It was a no brainer."We got very pissed on the flight home.
"It was the exact same cabin crew and they were so nice.
"We sat at the back drinking red wine and watching just British films. "Isabella wanted to watch the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."Back in the UK, Isabella stayed with Olivia for a couple of nights before moving back in with her mother Liane Brazier, 60, in Lyme Regis, Dorset.
She said: "The first month I was not in a good way at all.
"I had really bad nightmares, I wasn't able to focus, I was sweaty and jumpy."Isabella added that she believes President Trump's immigration policies have caused officials to be overly suspicious of all holiday-goers.
She said: "I think that the system has gotten incredibly carried away.
"It is so obviously a power trip.
"You are not talking to human beings.
"I am concerned that natural human empathy has been lost as officials follow Trump's directions.
"I really want to open people's eyes.
"This treatment is applied to Mexicans and Muslims but it's also becoming a mass situation.
"I think they took against me because I was a posh, white blonde girl.
"I lost £3,500 that I spent on flights, insurance, accommodation, renting a car, doing up my flat to rent it out."I think Michael Gove will have no problem going to the US in the future.
As long as you are in a position of power, you can get around any law." Isabella has written a play about her experience, titled The Long Arm of the Orange Faced Baboon, and she has launched a kickstarter to stage the play, more information can be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/oiprojects/the-long-arm-of-the-orange-faced-baboon.
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