Hitchin holidaymaker, 22, denied entry to United States
PUBLISHED: 16:29 26 July 2018 | UPDATED: 07:41 27 July 2018
A 22-year-old Hitchin woman who jetted off to the United States for a dream holiday is traumatised after she was refused entry and sent home.
Charlotte Hockton was going to stay with family friends on the same Cape Cod campsite she has visited each year since childhood, and then go on a road trip around America with her mum Pippa.
The trip was a present from her mum to say thank you for help nursing her grandmother with Alzheimer’s, and celebrate her graduation from university.
But on arrival at Logan Airport in Boston in the early hours on Sunday, Charlotte – who was entering the US alone for the first time, after 18 trips with her family – was taken aside for questioning at the border.
“This has never happened when I have been with my family,” Charlotte told the Comet.
“My flight was delayed by four hours, so I was pretty exhausted.
“I didn’t really know what to say and was scared. I tried to explain about the trip, staying with our friends at the campsite, but he kept asking questions which had yes or no answers.
“He then told me that I was being refused entry because I was trying to enter illegally to seek skilled or unskilled employment.
“I was escorted onto a plane and my passport was given to the air hostess, who was told to give it to me once the flight had taken off. I was treated like a criminal.”
Charlotte, who was adopted from an orphanage in China after being abandoned as a small child, believes she was stopped because of her race.
She said: “I have entered the US 18 times with my family, and the only time I was pulled over was when I was alone – so it does look as though it was my ethnicity which drew attention to me.”
The denial of entry means Charlotte can no longer use the visa waiver programme used by most British citizens to enter the US.
“I would have to declare that I was refused entry if I were to apply for a visa for the US, and I am pretty sure I would be refused because I am listed as someone who was trying to enter illegally for work,” she said.
“I think he was suspicious because I was staying for the whole summer and where I would be staying was a campsite. He didn’t get it that the owners of the campsite are our friends.”
She added: “This should have been the best summer of my life.”
Charlotte is set to meet Hitchin MP Bim Afolami next week to ask for his help over the matter.
In a statement to the Comet, a spokeswoman for US Customs and Border Protection insisted that “in this case, the individual admitted she was coming for work, requiring a J1 visa which she did not possess”.
She added: “The individual was denied entry but can reapply for admission after obtaining the proper visa.”