t was October 2005 when my first cousin Natalya Ratel called me at my home to tell me that her mother Gilberte was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I called all of my sisters that I still communicated with to let them know what our cousin Natalya had told me. My sisters Lena Masters, Mitch Muldoon and I decided that we were all going to Montreal, Canada to see her for the last time.
We purchased the tickets on American Airlines, leaving the United States on January 3, 2006, after the holidays. It would have cost far too much to go before that date, and none of us could afford the extra cost. I was having financial difficulties at that time, and Mitch offered to loan me the money, which I graciously accepted. I was not going to miss seeing my Aunt Gilberte Ratel for the last time.
Lena, Mitch, and I (along with Mitch’s two children Ignacio Jr. and Helene'), arrived in Montreal, at Dorval Montreal Airport on January 3, 2006; we stayed for three days and visited with our aunt, her husband Uncle Jean-Louis Ratel and the rest of our cousins and their family. We did not know it at the time, but it also would be the last time we saw our Uncle. He died one week after Aunt Gilberte.
Our cousins Natalya and her sister drove us back to Dorval Montreal Airport on January 6 for our return flight home to the United States.
Arriving at the Airport gate, I went up to the U.S. customs counter and showed all the identification that I had shown numerous times before when traveling to visit my mother Helene’s family. This time was different. The customs officer started to ask me questions, “Are you a United States Citizen”, “YES”, I replied. “Where were you born”, I replied “Montreal, Quebec, Canada”, “Where was your father born”, I replied, “Providence, Rhode Island”, “Where was your mother born”, I replied, “Montreal, Quebec, Canada”. I replied as I always did to every question asked of me.
After a few minutes of waiting at the US Customs counter for entry to the plane, two uniformed men (I guessed that they were Customs officers because they never introduced themselves) came up to me and asked me to follow them to a glassed office waiting room. My sisters, niece and nephew followed us. We sat there for about forty-five minutes before an officer came out and told me that I would not be leaving on the American Airlines flight I was booked on. The intercom came on and we heard that our American Airlines flight was calling the passengers to board for the last time.
My sisters and I looked at each other shocked, and the children got scared. My sisters said “We are staying here with you”, I replied, “No, I want you all to get on the plane back home; it will be okay, it is just a mistake, and I will call when I know more”.
I was detained by officers of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Dorval, Montreal Airport in Canada for six hours on January 6, 2006. After answering numerous questions and waiting for two or more hours for answers to my questions as to why I was being detained, the US Homeland Security officers at the Montreal airport told me that my father was not born in Providence, Rhode Island, but was born in Montreal, Canada. They did not however, at any time show me any proof of what they were saying to me. I basically was in shock the whole time I was there while the Immigration Officers were interrogating me, I could not believe what they were saying, and so I said nothing! I was trying to process all the information they were telling me while the officers’ continued interrogating me, taking my finger prints, asking more questions and taking numerous pictures.
After over five hours of interrogation I became very angry and told one of the young DHS officers to put me in jail if they could not make a decision as to what they wanted to do with me. I told him I had had enough, I had to go to the bathroom, I was tired, I was hungry and I was not going to answer one more question! The young DHS Officer looked shocked and his face got very red, he started to apologize. I knew it was not his fault and immediately lowered my voice because I new I was getting very aggressive with him. He proceeded to tell me that it would not be too much longer and again said that he was sorry for the delay. He then proceeded to get me an escort to the bathroom.
The DHS Officer who walked me to the bathroom, waited outside the bathroom door until I came out. When I returned to the glass enclosed office, the young DHS Officer that I had raised my voice to; had a sandwich waiting for me. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get angry at him again. I felt that he did feel real sorry for my detainment at the Airport. After about another half hour of waiting, they told me what they were going to do with me.
After being detained by the Homeland Security Officers for six hours of interrogation, I was told they were deferring me back to the United States as an “Arriving Alien”. I overheard one of the DHS Officers saying to another “let the United States Justice Department figure out what they want to do with her”.
How could this be? I asked myself. I have been a United States Citizen all my life! But I was too tired to say anything at this point, and was happy to be going home.
I had been abducted as an “Illegal Alien” by the United States Government, and there was nothing I could do about it!