British woman, 30, ‘held in Texas prison for three days’

British woman, 30, ‘held in Texas prison for three days’

A British woman claims she was held in an American jail for three days and shown an electric chair after she tried to visit her boyfriend. 

Sophie Frampton, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, told the Times she was handcuffed, strip searched, and held without her migraine medication amitriptyline in Austin, Texas

The 30-year-old was on her fourth visit to the country in 11 months to see her partner Zaid Khayat, 25, but admitted there had been a change to her address since she had applied for her Esta.

Sophie Frampton had travelled to America to see her partner Zaid Khayat, 25

Ms Frampton claims she was handcuffed, strip searched, and held without her medication in a jail in Austin, Texas

Ms Frampton says she met her boyfriend on holiday in Thailand in May 2017.  

She said she first visited the US in August 2017 before going again in November and January 2018.  

But officials raised concerns over a visa application she made after her first visit, when she wrongly thought that her Esta permit was for a single entry. 

She had also put an Australian address on her Esta, where she was backpacking when she applied for it.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) allows you to stay in the US for up to 90 days without needing a VISA. 

They cost around £9, and must be applied for at least 72 hours before you travel. 

Ms Frampton claims she was handcuffed and driven to jail, told to strip and kept in a cell without her migraine medicine. 

She also claims she was unable to use the toilet in her cell. 

Ms Frampton claims she has had counselling on her return to Britain. 

She and Mr Khayat have since been reunited in the UK and in Canada. 

This comes after a British marketing manager 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.’ 

Arrests Britons at US airports have increased every year since 2014, with 103 immigration-related arrests recorded by British consulates in the first four months of this year

Ms Frampton said she’d had counselling on her return to Britain and had had to meet her boyfriend in the UK and Canada

Isaac Roblett, 24, from Hastings, East Sussex flew to the Illinois city on April 24 for the trip of a lifetime with American girlfriend Camila Iglesia (pictured left together), 23. But when immigration officials found a text message (right), sent during an argument, saying ‘I am moving to be with you’, he was deported from the country for life

What is an ESTA permit? How it lets you travel to the US for less than 90 days without a visa

An ESTA lets you visit the US for less than 90 days without needing a visa – as long as it’s for a holiday or a business trip. It’s called the visa waiver program.

It is officially called an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. To get one you must be a UK citizen or a citizen from another visa waiver country visiting the US.

The US Customs and Border Patrol recommends that you apply for one at least 72 hours before departure. You will only need it if you are arriving by plane or cruise ship. 

It currently costs $14, which is around £9 in British money. That’s if you decide to apply for one on the ESTA website. You will probably pay more if you do it through a travel agent. 

If you are refused entry to the US you will only be charged $4. If it goes through, however, it will be valid for two years and you can make multiple trips back to America during that time.

You cannot just renew it when it runs out, you have to re-apply for it each time. If you are looking to stay for longer in the US you would need a different document, such as a work visa. 

Isaac Roblett, 24, from Hastings, East Sussex flew to the Illinois city on April 24 for 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. 

But when Mr Roblett arrived in the country, 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.

He claims that in reality, he was visiting his girlfriend for their one year anniversary. The couple had met on Tinder as she studied on an exchange at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in Sidcup, Kent.

As Mr Roblett was taken into a room for questioning his girlfriend, who is from Miami and studies acting at Columbia College Chicago, was left waiting in the airport. He claims she remained there for around 15 hours until going home. 

Marketing manager Mr 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 Ms Iglesia and is now also banned from visiting the US for life. 

Mr Roblett had previously flown to his girlfriend’s home city of Miami and the pair drove to Chicago, where Ms Iglesia is studying to become an actress, late last year. This time, they had been planning to visit New York and Los Angeles.  

The couple (pictured) had met when Ms Iglesia was studying on an exchange at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in Sidcup, Kent

The guards continued to comb his messages and Mr Roblett says they made comments about his relationship which were ‘below the belt’.

The next morning Mr Roblett spoke to the British Embassy, and paid £700 for a flight back to Heathrow with a stopover in Dublin. He was taken to the plane in handcuffs.

Since returning to the UK he says he has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and now wants to warn others that US border officials will comb visitors’ phones.

The couple are going to try and stay together, despite Mr Roblett’s ban. ‘It’s horrible, the love of my life is in another country and I can’t even see her,’ he added. 

 

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