Mysterious Detention of 17-Year-Old in the U.S.

AbuseTHE EDITOR: I wish to bring to your attention the detention of my 17-year-old daughter in the United States of America. She boarded a Continental flight at Piarco International airport on the night of Monday 5th July, 2010, at 9 p.m. to catch a connecting flight from New Jersey to Maryland. Upon arriving at the Immigration Transportation Hub at Newark International she was detained and remains so at present.

Upon being informed through a hysterical call from her that she had been detained at the airport early the next morning (Tuesday 6th July, 2010), I contacted relatives residing in New York to hastily travel to Newark to resolve the unknown situation. They are yet to see my daughter. Instead they were given the ‘run around’, having met with three different individuals who claimed to have no knowledge of having detained anyone by that name. Only after determined efforts to speak with a supervisor did someone then notify them that she had been put on a returning flight to Trinidad – some three hours after they arrived.

At 3 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday 6th July, 2010, I was awakened by my daughter’s frightened sobbing, notifying me that she was told that she would be going somewhere in San Francisco and that should her birthday arrive and she turn 18years of age, that she would then be sent to a facility for adult illegal immigrants and detained there for a year before being allowed to return to Trinidad and Tobago.

Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to save the number from which she made the call and after repeated attempts to contact her at the number, it was apparent that it was the Hampton Inn, Room #433 in Franklin, Illinois, at which she had been made to stay the night. A call to the number 1-847-671-1700 at 1:30 p.m. eventually resulted in the discovery that not only was my daughter no longer at the Inn but she had been removed from there since ‘earlier that morning’. Further questioning proved futile with regard to getting an exact time of departure.

As of Thursday 8th July, 2010, at 8:43 a.m., I have been told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago that she is now being referred to as Alien # 87944457 and has been transferred to the Southwest Key Programme, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 where she has been forced to remove her braids to check for lice, to remove her newly done nails (a gift for her graduation) and her earrings. She has been begging to return to Trinidad since her initial detention at Newark International and has been ignored. I am in the process of contacting as many law firms as possible in California to seek legal counsel as any fool can see that this whole process was in violation of my daughter’s fundamental rights. Why was she not placed on a return flight to Trinidad and instead whisked away secretly across state lines? Thus far she has been allowed a ten minute phone call (sounds familiar, as in the phone call given to prisoners upon their incarceration) on Wednesday night during which I had to endure her tormented pleas to return home. She is confused as to why she is in this position and further is being treated as though a hardened criminal. I view this entire fiasco as a blatant mistreatment of a minor. She has committed no crime; her luggage has been returned to Piarco since Wednesday 7th July, 2010. When will someone take a stand and ask questions as to what goes on when relatives travel abroad and their rights are infringed?

I wish to point out that American citizens are treated with respect, and courtesy when they enter any part of the world and I fail to see why the Department of Homeland Security, the U. S. Customs and Border Patrol finds it necessary to bully, torment and wrongfully detain a minor who has already been through so many personal trials and was simply hoping to have a vacation after not having done so for so many years.

Is there no accountability in the United States of America? Who are guarding these Customs and Border Patrol officials? Is this the way that visitors can expect to be treated based on the whim or fancy of the interrogating officer? Is it that parents/guardians have no rights? What of my distress at not knowing what has become of my daughter? Does the Border Patrol have any and all liberty to mistreat minors or those who cannot defend themselves or their good name in the name of National Security?

I beg you and anyone who is in a position to help, please, help me in finding my daughter. My concern as a parent and citizen of Trinidad and Tobago is to the welfare of my child, a minor, who has not committed any crime, traveling abroad alone, to be treated in such an inhumane and criminal manner. She will soon be 18, what will become of her then? Please investigate, spread the word. Please help me.

Thanking you in advance for any consideration or assistance you may offer.

Respectfully,

Ms. McCarter.

lisastan01@gmail.com

36 Responses to “Mysterious Detention of 17-Year-Old in the U.S.”


  • There are some questions that need answers: Did the young lady have a valid visitor’s visa? It is my understanding that one cannot purchase a ticket to the US from anywhere unless you have a valid visa. Was there some other reason she was detained. Was there forbidden material in her luggage? You need to know specifics to those questions.Was her name on a watch list in error?Was she carrying something for someone she did not know well, despite all the warnings not to? This seems a matter for TnT’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the TnT Ambassador to the US to raise with the State Department. Do not let them sleep on the job, light a fire under them.

    Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, my congresswwoman has offices in both Washington DC and Houston, Texas. I take the liberty of providing you with her data, for this purpose only.
    Friends and family can write a flood of letters, but make sure that they know what they are talking about. There may be details that you are not comfortable listing here, but those writing to her need to know.

    Sheila Jackson Lee
    2435 Rayburn Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    Phone 202-225-3816

    Congress is now in recess, so here is her Houston office

    1919 Smith Street Suite 1180
    Houston, TX 77002
    713-655-0050
    Fax:713-655-1612

    I give you this info out of deep pity.

    You should also ask your relatives to whom she was going to contact their Congressional Rep. This is why dual citizenship is important for people like your relatives in the greater New York area. One is entitled to get help as a voter.

    Unless however, TnT Ministry of Foreigh Affairs takes an interest, no one in the US would budge. The attitude to immigrants from South of the Border, is not good.

    No one should come to the US unless they have a valid visa. If she did not, the ticketing officials and the airline are deep in the mess also. They should not have let her on the plane.

    My prayers are with you. I am a mother.

  • One of the functions of the Trinidad and Tobago Ambadassor to the United States is to protect it’s citizens. Why not contact the Embassador of Trinidad and Tobago to the U.S and make your case to have your daughter returned to YTrinidad.

  • The next time you speak to your daughter tell her to excercise her right to remain silent because they will bully her and make her admit to things to incriminate herself without her realising it. After she has done her time mabye 6 months they will deport her because it cost money to keep an alien. They are keeping her for interrogation thats why they never sent her back the rules change when she turns 18 she becomes an adult so they have more power over her. i myself have been abused by the tt immigration on the orders of the americans, they have no respect for third world people. But bear in mind ahe may have been carrying something for a man or some other crime and you dont know about it.

  • Thank you for your responses. She has a valid passport and valid visa. I have spoken to my daughter when she was allowed to call on Sunday and no one gave her anything to hold or carry, furthermore, I am of the opinion that if she had been carrying anything illegal, her luggage (all of them) would not have been returned to the Piarco Airport since Wednesday 7th, July, 2010. She has told me that they had interrogated her regarding a query with her name and her last visit there when she would have been approximately eleven years old. My disgust is with the fact that she was not immediately put on a plane back to Trinidad, should she have been found ineligible to enter the United States? Why detain her? The place she is being kept is a facility for undocumented/unaccompanied minors. So I guess this is their justification…she is either undocumented or was obviously unaccompanied. I will be contacting the Congresswoman as soon as possible. Is there a fax number as well?

    THank you so much for the advice.

  • You should try to contact the TT Consulate offices in Washington and Miami. They may be able to get more details for you. The number for the Miami office is 786-877-9423. If not you can probably go to Jack Warner, he seems to know people all over the world and may be able to help you. He is a travelled man. This is your minor child so leave no stone untuned. In the meantime continue to pray for her safe and speedy return and I will remember you in my prayers too.

  • You have been given lots of good advice on this terrible situation. If this was my daughter I would be taking this to the top. Perhaps you could get your political rep in Trinidad to have your new Prime minister make direct contact with President Obama requesting immediate intervention. I can only pray for you and and your daughter hope all is resolved soon.

    Regards Lewis Lee.

  • Let me preface my commentary by saying that I am a skeptic by nature. Don’t ask me why, for I haven’t a clue. Maybe it’s because at eight weeks I was abandoned by a young,seemingly uncaring mother, and a lifetime useless , bum of a father.
    It could be that it’s due to the fact that I was left in the care of a loving , and wise 37 year old grandmother at the time , who eventually ,over the next 16 years she remained alive , taught me well on how to “take some things with a pinch of salt,” and the need to decipher what might be in the mortar , other than the pestle.
    Then it might really be a ten year stint as one of those much maligned ,unmentionable , so called useless ,allegedly pro genocidal ,’Boys in Blue,’ that desperately tried as part of their law enforcement duties , to keep the barbarians from destroying us all through the decades, as a result of their ‘crime loving predilections.’
    Whatever it is , I am not sure ,and no Freudian psychotherapist, can figure it out at this stage , but let’s say folks,that my antennae is up on this story if true- which again I doubt. Let me just say this,however to the seemingly distraught individual that claim to be a mother.
    Madame McCarter, if that’s your name , raising a child today is not the job for weak of hearts, no matter what you hear from some of the self righteous characters on this board.
    We often do not know all that they might be engaged in , or pretend not to-often to our own and their peril. Hopefully all will work out in time for you on this sensitive subject. You however need to keep the emotionalism at bay- again ,if the story as presented ,has any merits.

    As for the phony friend 1 who claimed ,”I myself have been abused by the tt immigration on the orders of the americans, they have no respect for third world people.” Would you please cut the nonsense out ,by trying like many others when expedient , to continually tarnish the good name of my country ,with led by our,cadre of professional , dedicated , unsound public service heroes. The only folks who seriously have a problem with law enforcement officials , in their quest to do their jobs ,within democratic countries , are criminals , and the characters that cuddle them-whether paid or otherwise.
    I stand corrected however.
    Hopefuly, some positive closure can soon come of this, ehh Madam MC?

  • Ms.MCCARTER, the fax number is the second of the 713 numbers I provided. I feel your pain, and lit a candle of prayer for your daughter last night. This child must be terribly scared. Do not hesitate also to inform the local office of the UN Human Rghts Commission.If your daughter is sexually abused in that facility, the US government is liabe. You sent her to someone you trusted. If she has committed no crime, this is abuse of a minor and covered under the Geneva Convention. MAke noise. Camp outside somebody in TT’s office till you get their attention.

    I will continue to pray for her safe return, but an official explanation is needed.

  • Hello! Ms. McCarter:

    I am a resident of California and I have dual citizenship for Trinidad and America, as a parent I feel your pain; however there must be a valid reason why your daughter was detained. I am not saying that the action taken by the Immigration Officials to detain your daughter was justified, however because of the heightened terrorist threats by those whose intent are to harm Americans; the scrutiny of everyone who enters the United States is thorough. I am hopefully that whatever reasons the Immigration Officials had to detain your daughter would be cleared/resolved and she would be released. The Creator is on your side and your family members are in my prayers. Don’t give up you will receive justice once the investigation is over. California.

  • I would like to make a correction on the phone number at the Miami Consulate office. The number is 786-374-2199.

  • A family in-law daughter was detained for almost a year in the US/NY area last year summer after a socalled friend asked her to hold a briefcase when she landed on the JKF airport. In this brief case was drugs. I heard she was released this year. the youth was 21.
    Teach the young people in T&T the dangers of travelling alone outside TT.
    TriniAmerican

    • McCleod I’ll be honest and say my 1st thought was that maybe someone gave her something that caused all this. BUt the thing is all of her luggage was returned since last Wednesday 7th JUly, 2010. COntinental called me to collect them. I believe that when those in authorities over here become seriously involved that we will then get answers as to what is really going on and why this happened.

  • To the person who wrote as Neal: Being a skeptic has merit in questionable situations such as this, but you have no excuse for being cruel and a downright ignoramus. The venom in your reply is most uncalled for to a mother who must be going out of her mind with worry for her 17-year-old daughter who is detained in a strange land under mysteriously circumstances. Contain yourself, man!! Whatever basis the US Immigration may have for what they did (and we do not know that there is any basis), a simple phone call to the child’s relatives in the US would have spared much heatache without any damage to the case. Such callousness from powerful people to terrorise a minor is unforgiveable. And then you wonder why the Mafia and assorted hitmen get so much business. I can only say to you, Ms Carter, some of us will keep praying and hoping for a quick resolution of this matter. In the meantime, light a fire under your TnT officials and in particular your Ambasador in Washington. Also, don’t forget that your PM is currently visiting the States and is in a great position to “mention” this sorrowful incident to a pack of journalist hounds. The last thing those Immigration terrorists want is a media storm about their tyranny with innocent children. Good luck.

    • THank you for your concern and for your comment. I am trying to see how much I can get this story to get ‘out there’. So far it’s moving kinda slow, so I’m going to be resending to those whom I”ve already sent letters etc to. I visited our MInistry of Foreign Affairs again today to try to ‘light a fire’ as one of you put it under them. I can’t afford for them to forget her. THanks again for your comment.

  • MAYBE YOUR BEST POSITION IS TO IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY THE PRIME MINISTER OR PRESIDENT……….THIS SORT OF INCIDENT HAS UNIMAGINABLE IMPLICATIONS AND AS SUCH THE PERSONS WITH THE MOST INFLUENCE IS YOUR BEST SOURCE FOR ASSISTANCE AT THE MOMENT……THIS SORT OF SITUATION CAN BECOME INCREDIBLY WORSE WITH EVERY PASSING MOMENT……DO NOT HESITATE TO EVEN REACH OUT FOR INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE FROM ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE UNITED NATIONS(UN),ORGANIZATIONS OF AMERICAN STATES(OAS),CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY(CARICOM) AND ANY SUCH GROUPS……..
    HOPE MY INVOLVEMENT RESULTS IN A SPEEDY RESOLUTION

    • THank you for your concern. I will take your advice and reach out to the UN, Caricom and the OAS. I can’t afford to take anything for granted. thanks again.

  • So sorry to hear of your daughter’s detention. Why have you not come to the US youself to fight for your daughter safe return to T&T. I do pray that she is released soon.
    Good Luck

  • Ever heard of the expression ‘a half pick duck,Glen?’ Well this is what this claim is , and hopefully in time the truth will emerge , and the alleged victims would have the courage to come forth and give us the facts.

    Nobody is more concerned about the plight of children ,concrete ,parental responsibilities,and efforts aimed at upholding fundamental Human Rights -especially if it relates to fellow nationals.
    Give it time , my friend, we’ll all be vindicated, and if wrong ,I would be the first to ‘cover myself in ashes and sack cloth’ via a public apology , I promise.
    Best wishes Madame Mcleod.

    • Let me first say that being online does offer great anonymity and as such would leave great room for scepticism. So, Neal, or whatever your name is you are in all right to have your opinions, doubts and to defend your country. However, I do not need to prove anything to you as I can readily tell you are not in any position to help or even offer constructive advice. For the truth of the matter remains that while you defend what you know nothing about, it is my child who has been detained and remains so. Furthermore, let’s not kid ourselves,the world is very much aware of what goes on in your powerful country – the hobby of suing – for the smallest thing. Citizens of America are very aware of their rights and have no fear in speaking up if they even suspect that it is being trampled upon. I intend to mimic that trend. My child left my country with a valid visa, valid passport and was not carrying any illegal substance. I have been told by our MInistry of FOreign affairs that my letters and inquiries would not be noticed unless they come from official channels. So, my hands are somewhat tied with regard to anything official as I have to wait for the Consulates to act – if at all. Meanwhile, this is what I”ve resorted to – the WOrld WIde WEb, to try to spread the word, in the hopes that someone with the clout etc, may hear and intervene so that my daughter can be returned safely. Your belief in my credibility is of little consequence it only affects me in the regard that I fear that many more – perhaps with relevant authority will share your views and not reach out to help.

  • It seems to me that there were no family members to meet her at Newark, New Jersey. The airline should have had documentation since she was a minor of the person/persons meeting her at the airport. If she was on a vacation visa and mentioned that she was going to school or something of the sort then definitely they would not let her stay because of her incorrect visa status. They probably saw her young and tried to tie her up when asked how long is she staying. I think Continental airlines should have progvided you with more information. As to the purse or duty. Most times I know the minors are the last to come off the plane accompanied by an airhostess and then they are taking to the immigration counter where the airhostess remain with them and then take them to collect their luggage and meet whoever is waiting for them. I would suggest next time we all fly Caribbean Airlines and stay local. AT least one of our own may have been able to tell us something. Was she left alone to go to the immigration counter. Sometimes its just a simple question that they ask and if you don’t understand them clearly and give them the incorrect answer or they think you are guessing that’s it. I will continue to pray for her safe return.

    • Because it was a connecting flight on her way to Washington, there would not be anyone there to collect her at Newark.I had thought there was an age limit and even when the ticket was booked I was not aware that I had the option of her being accompanied by airline personnel.She was well past that age. My visa has expired which is why I am not at the steps of that facility demanding her return. THe fact is unless something happens to you – or someone you know..it is very easy to say it is farfetched or impossible. Since I”ve put my story here someone has already emailed me saying that her 14yr old daughter was detained since july 1st, 2010. I am no lawyer, nor am I an immigration official. All I am asking is if my daughter did not fulfill entry requirements into the US why not send her on the next flight back to my country? I already see with the passage of time that I have to seek legal counsel. I’ve faxed a letter to the COngresswoman, I”ve writtten and visited our Ministry of FOreign Affairs, I’ve put the matter on facebook, I’ve written to at least two of our newspapers, I’ve made an appointment to be interviewed by WIN TV, I”ve faxed letters to all the consulates (new york and washington). And tomorrow I’ll be at it again. I’v also paid the money to try to get my visa renewed. I’ve contacted a few legal firms in California hoping that at least one will take her case pro bono. I will not rest. ONly those who have walked in my shoes can know the torture of having a child unexpectedly detained and not knowing what will become of her. Only GOd can help me now.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. She more than likely did not answer the questions put to her in a manner that was satisfactory. Nevertheless, what’s this detention about? How does that fit into the picture? Is this a new trend? Are we to get on that plane to the US with fear and trembling not knowing if the wrong answer will take away our freedom? Sigh…I understand that they have their job to do, but this is inexcusable. Almost wicked. I fail to see how this detention of my child,helps secure their borders or makes their citizens any safer. But then what do I know.

  • correcton on my previous comment:

    I think Continental airlines should have provided you with some information or inquired with the purser on duty for that flight unless they do not care.

  • From here: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/specialneeds/minors/default.aspx

    Children ages 12-17 have the option to pay the fee and use the unaccompanied minor service or they may travel as adults with no unaccompanied minor service provided.

    From the text the traveller was 17+ almost 18.

    A minor in the US (and TT) is legally defined as some one under 18.

  • Update: The facility in California houses undocumented/unaccompanied minors. Finally the Consulate is sending a representative over to the facility to look in on my daughter to ensure that she is being treated well/fairly. Please pray that this will be the beginning of a resolution of this horror story. My relatives are still working on gathering documentation – signing forms etc. to submit to the facility after which they have to wait for whomever (I have no idea who is calling these shots) to decide if it meets their standards and if they will then allow her to be released into their custody. Tomorrow, again, I will continue to fight the good fight. I am trying to get a hearing with Rupert Griffith or Jack Warner. I was told that getting to see Kamla would be difficult as she has so recently returned from her Caricom meeting. SO, they’ll have to do. Hopefully I’ll be able to have this story told on power 102fm.

  • my nephew has his canadian visa to come to canada, he bought his ticket but was not told that because the plane (continential-air)is passing through Houston texas he will need a transit visa. now he is trying to get this special visa for the u.s. shouldn’t the airline reimburse the ticket or fix this mess?

  • It’s sad to hear of this poor child how she is been treated in the u.s. i am sure the tnt immi will not treat a child from the u.s in this manner. someone have to do something.i feel for her mother .

  • So now yours truly has emerged as the convenient psychological punching bag for all and sundry , -especially madame McCarter -to take out their frustrations with ‘Big, Bad ,Papa Americana,’ yes?
    First rule of thumb Madame Mc Carter,is to recognize when your back is against the wall, or put differently, your hands are the lion’s mouth….? Well you know the rest of the advice. At this juncture my lady, cease and desist, this penchant for making wild , blanket condemnation of Uncle Sam , her system of government,and it’s people ,unless you hold dual citizenship , and pays taxes like some Californians, or New Jersey resident .
    Instead direct such venom , condescending condemnations ,and broad-scale attacks ,as per usual for Trinis , towards folks like our Boys and gals in Blue – the allegedly lazy , Human Rights abusing ,insensitive brutes , and crooks, that dominated our Police Service since 1956, and the multitude of other dedicated domestic , unwavering professionals ,under appreciated Public Servants ,that tries to implement state policies, and do their mandated jobs, while, conniving , upstart politicians ,resort to public media foot-sees , in efforts to entice gullible voters , en route to their lifetime, power grabs.
    At this stage madame , the only people you should be directing your attention to , while seeking help , are the so called life time PNM folks , that allegedly dominated our Consulates, in the ‘land of the free.’
    I might be on shaky grounds here Madame Mc Carter, and if so , stand corrected , but nevertheless,be forewarned , that you have a better chance at driving a Bentley car from Palo Seco ,to the Perley Gates of Heaven, than getting one meaningful audience , with busy ,local politicians, as far as interceding on behalf in this your supposedly urgent request.
    By the way, when are we the many skeptics, going to finally get an idea as to why your daughter was going to America, or is that is a private affair?
    I am reminded of an ex girl friend ,who was a mother of two , that told me , I could not tell her anything about how to raise her delicate ,special ,girl child , as I am the father of four boys. Go figure.
    I promised soon after parting company with her ,to one day pen a book ,on the challenge of parenting , chiefly for her and other naive adults , who love to speak with such confidence, and authority , about the innocent ones in their charge. Perhaps this is the opportune time. Keep the faith.
    I wish you well my friend.

  • I call shenanigans.

  • Ms.McCarty’s candor is questionable for a parent who’s minor child safety and security is in limbo ,why can’t she provide the proper documents to the Trinidad authorities.There are many questions that many of you her are afraid to ask.

  • yes i think there is more here than what is written.

  • You know it’s a slow news week when this crap is still considered a story. Wake me up when something substantial presents itself , or Mama Mc decides to come clean. What a comedy!

  • Please facebook people pray for the safety of Ms Mc Carter’s daughter. No innocent person should be treated this way. People in authority help this lady get answers. The airline need to take responsibility also. Foreign Affairs what are you doing to assist Nationals in need. Get the girl on the next flight out. People pray pray pray.

  • There must be foul play somewhere. This just doesn’t happen if all of the paperwork is in order.

  • YES INDEED ONE OF THE JOBS OF AMBASSADOR OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO IS TO LOOK INTO MATTERS SUCH AS THESES FOR IT’S CITIZENS. IF THIS HAD HAPPENED TO A WHITE AMERICAN IT WOULD OF BEEN AN “INTERNATIONAL” INCIDENCE. THESE BASTARDS HAVE SO VERY LITTLE CONCERN FOR OTHERS IT’S NOT FUNNY. THIS SHOULD BE AN ISSUE.
    WOULD THE SAME PEOPLE HAVE DARED DONE THIS TO AN ISRAELI CITIZEN?? I SOMEHOW DON’T THINK SO.

  • …ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN ALL HELP THIS FAMILY IS BY E-MAILING AND OR WRITING TO OUR DIFFERENT AMBASSIES OR CONSULATES IN THE AMERIKKKA AND PUTING THIS FAMILY’S CASE FORWARD.
    THIS IS ONE OF THEIR JOBS TO SEE THAT THEIR CITIZENS ARE TREATED FAIRLY.
    WE ALSO NEED TO HIGHLIGHT THIS MORE IN THE NEWS, BY BRINGING IT TO THE ATTENTIOPN OF EDITORS IN THE LOCAL PRESS AND ALSO IN BLACKS NEWS IN AMMERIKKA AND YES THE UK. WE ALSO NEED TO PUT QUESTIONS TO OUR MINISTERS, NEW GOV’T NEW REGIME, LET’S ROLL HERE PEOPLE, GET ON WEB-SITES, BLOG. IF WE DON’T BEGION TO DEMAND RESPECT “PEOPLE” WILL CONTINUE TO DO AS THEY PLEASE.

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