Tourists travel to our country and through our country on a regular basis. In order to show that we are eager to have visitors, we need to treat everyone with the utmost respect. Unfortunately, that’s not always happening.
One Australian tourist talks about how she was questioned and harassed about whether she had an abortion performed while she was in the United States.
This is not something we need to be asking anyone. It’s an invasion of privacy. And what one tourist does while she is here really shouldn’t be of concern to the United States, especially if she’s not breaking the law.
Madolline Gourley is a blogger who is well-known for traveling around the world to cat-sit for clients. She traveled through the U.S. to get to Canada, where she would be house and cat-sitting.
While in the U.S., before crossing the border into Canada, she was questioned by a U.S. border security official. The 31-year-old was allegedly patted down, fingerprinted, and photographed. She was then questioned about whether she was pregnant. She answered and the official asked it again. She responded with a “no” once again. Then, she was asked if she had recently had an abortion.
Soon after, she was told that she wouldn’t be allowed in the country because of breaching the visa waiver program.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the Independent that prohibited applicants were prohibited from engaging in “any type of employment or get compensation for services rendered.”
The spokesperson also added that they “regret any inconvenience or unpleasantness” that travelers may experience during processing.
Gourley doesn’t charge for her services. Instead, she takes advantage of a website, TrustedHouseSitters, where she can save a significant amount of money on accommodations.
She does need money for airfare, though, which is why she works a full-time job in Brisbane.
She has already raised a complaint about the denial of entry as well as the U.S. border security officer’s behavior to her local parliamentarian, Libby Watson-Brown. The complaint has also been shared with Penny Wong, the foreign affairs minister in Australia.
The minister has identified that the Australian government needs to provide clearer information to citizens about visa waiver schemes. Wong also believes that Gourley “deserves an apology” from U.S. Customs and Border Protection along with clarity on how this visa waiver would impact future travel to the U.S.
Of course, this happened just days after Roe v Wade was struck down by the Supreme Court.
Then, Joe Biden signed an executive order last week that directed federal agencies to protect abortion access. Obviously, the president does not have the power to restore Roe solely with his signature.
There’s no telling what the border patrol officer was doing. Did she think that she was acting on Biden’s executive order to protect abortion?
Obviously, Gourley did not receive an abortion. She was not pregnant, and she was simply on her way to Canada to do some house and cat-sitting. There’s no telling how the situation would have turned out differently if Gourley had, in fact, had an abortion while in the U.S.
The visa waiver program is clearly identified. It “enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.”
Gourley qualified for this program. There was no breach – and the Border officers have still yet to provide any explanation as to how she supposedly breached, preventing her from access.
These kinds of stories are why America is not great. It will get there again one day. But, if we keep allowing officers to question people inappropriately and prevent people from using the visa waiver program that was set up, we’re going to see international travel come to an end. Then what of our great nation? Of our tourism industries?