A 19-year-old French woman visiting her mother in British Columbia, Canada, learned the hard way that going for a jog near the Canadian-US border is not a very good idea.
Cedella Roman, who lives in France, was visiting her mother in North Delta, British Columbia, last month, when she decided to go for an evening run on the coast of White Rock, in Western Canada. Cedella was admiring the breathtaking scenery, so even though she knew she was close to the border with the United States, she claims she didn’t realize that she accidentally crossed into the neighboring country. The young jogger only realized her mistake when she was stopped by a couple of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, shortly after unknowingly crossing the border.
“An officer stopped me and started telling me I had crossed the border illegally,” the 19-year-old French woman told CBC News. “I told him I had not done it on purpose, and that I didn’t understand what was happening.”
Roman, who had no identification papers on her at the time, figured that she would get fined for her mistake, or even be let off the hook with a warning. She soon learned that illegally crossing into the United States of America, even accidentally, while jogging, has very serious consequences.
“They asked me to remove all my personal belongings with my jewelry. They searched me everywhere,” Cedella recalled. “Then I understood it was getting very serious, and I started to cry a bit.”
The French jogger was arrested by the border patrol on May 21, and subsequently transferred to the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The next day, she was put into a “caged vehicle” and taken to the Northwest Detention Center, in Tacoma, Wahington, about 140 miles south of where she was arrested. Cedella remained there until June 5, when she was taken back to the border “and removed to Canada,” according to ICE spokesperson Carissa Cutrell.
It’s unclear why the 19-year-old had to spend two weeks in a detention center for her mistake, especially since her mother provided the required travel documents immediately.
“It was just unfair that there was nothing, no sign at the border,” the girl’s mother, Christiane Ferne told CBC News. “Anybody can be caught at the border like this.”
However, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection representative was unapologetic about the issue, telling The Washington Postthat “if an individual enters the United States at a location other than an official port of entry and without inspection by a Customs and Border Protection officer, they have illegally entered the United States and will be processed accordingly. It is the responsibility of an individual traveling in the vicinity of an international border to maintain awareness of their surroundings and their location at all times to ensure they do not illegally cross the border.”
That is technically true, but still, two weeks in detention for crossing the border while jogging in an area without a clear demarcation line or border signs seems a bit harsh…