UK man, Isaac Roblett deported and banned by immigration officials at Chicago airport while visiting US girlfriend, Camila Iglesia after reading, ‘I am moving to be with you,’ text.
A UK man visiting his girlfriend in Chicago was locked in a cell for 24 hours and banned from the US for life, after immigration officials found a month-old text saying: ‘I am moving to be with you.’
Isaac Roblett, 24, from Hastings, East Sussex had flown to the Illinois city on April 24 for what was supposed to be the ‘trip of a lifetime,’ with American girlfriend Camila Iglesia, 23. He had been talking about spending three months in the country under an ESTA permit.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation allows foreign travelers to stay in the US for up to 90 days without needing a VISA. They must be applied for at least 72 hours before travel.
But when Roblett – a British marketing manager- arrived in the US, immigration officials questioned him about his reasons for travel. They scoured his phone and discovered a text message about ‘moving’ and feared he may stay in the country long term.
Told Isaac of his interrogation via the dailymail: ‘They went through my phone, all my messages, and found a message to my girlfriend which said “I am moving to be with you”. They said that’s evidence enough to not allow me in.’
Roblett was locked up in a cell for a day and interrogated in a windowless room for an hour and a half. He was deported the next day without seeing Iglesia and is now also banned from visiting the US for life.
Was Isaac Roblett text to Camila Iglesia misconstrued?
The couple had met when Iglesia was studying on an exchange at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in Sidcup, Kent.
The couple fell in love, and enjoyed traveling, food and watching sports together with Isaac having visited her before.
He had previously flown to her home city of Miami and the pair drove to Chicago, where Iglesia is studying to become an actress, late last year. This time, they had been planning to visit New York and Los Angeles.
But it was a text message, sent during an argument, that proved to be the couple’s undoing. It read: ‘In terms of a break up, I don’t know what I’ve done to make you forget that in a months time I am moving to be with you.’
Roblett insists he just meant for the duration of the holiday, adding: ‘I wouldn’t say ‘visit you’ if it’s three months.’ Adding, ‘I was almost crying, trying to hold back the tears. One of the officers told me: ‘Man up, get over it.’
The guards continued to comb his messages with Roblett saying they made comments about his relationship which were ‘below the belt’.
During his ‘interrogation’, Iglesia had been waiting at the airport’s arrivals lounge for Roblett to turn up. When he didn’t, she was left feeling ‘scared’ and ‘angry’.
After the interrogation, Roblett says he was put in a cramped cell with four other people. He added: ‘It was the worst thing you’ve ever seen. The toilet was literally a hole in the ground.’
He says he did not eat, shower or sleep, and bright lights were left on overnight.
The next morning Mr Roblett spoke to the British Embassy, and paid £700 ($891 USD) for a flight back to Heathrow with a stopover in Dublin. He was taken to the plane in handcuffs.
Isaac Roblett now diagnosed with PTSD:
Since returning to the UK he says he has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and now wants to warn others that US border officials will comb visitors’ phones.
The couple said they intend to stay together, despite Roblett’s ban.
‘It’s horrible, the love of my life is in another country and I can’t even see her,’ the UK man said.
Offered a spokesman for the the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: ‘Our staff offered advice to a British man who was denied entry to the USA, and were in contact with the US immigration authorities regarding his case.’
The case has led to some wondering if Roblett’s interrogation and ban was influenced by recent President Donald Trump immigration rhetoric ‘blaming’ immigrants or the fear of influx of illegal immigrants or simply the result of zealous officials committed to maintaining border control.