I got a note this morning from John Schirmer, editor of the Nashville Leader, about the unexpected end of a local mission trip to Guatemala: One of the Nashville participants was denied readmission to the U.S. in Houston and sent to her native India.
Details of the apparent document problems remain unclear this morning, but folks in Nashville aren’t happy with this particular non-porous border crossing, given well-known events elsewhere on the U.S. Border.
The summary from Schirmer:
Molly Sirigiri, a young woman who teaches biological sciences at Cossatot Community College, joined a week-long First Baptist Church mission trip to a Guatemala orphanage and exited the U.S. without difficulty. Returning through Houston Tuesday, she was detained at immigration. Ultimately, she was put on a plane through Germany back to India. Efforts by Nashville people to get an explanation for what had occurred were fruitless. TSA agents also took her cell phone. A church group member finally got in touch but the young woman said she’d yet to receive an explanation of what had happened.
More to come.
UPDATE: More details from John Schirmer that might also serve as a word-to-the-wise on visas in the U.S.:
One of our police investigators accessed the information from Houston. The report says that Sirigiri was issued a visa in 2009. Apparently, the visa is only good for her to be in the United States. It does not allow her to travel outside of the U.S. If for any reason she does, the visa is void and she is not allowed re-entry. When she traveled to Guatemala, she was not allowed re-entry. She will be allowed to reapply for her visa in India, where she is scheduled to arrive July 11.
The Nashville people who organized the trip were told that her work at Cossatot Community College/UA will be able to help her get back to the states faster because that’s the reason she is here. She has her luggage and all of her belongings. The airlines are responsible for making sure she has food.
People in Nashville offered to wire her money, but her immediate needs are being taken care of.
We don’t know why she wasn’t told all of this at the time she was detained. We also don’t know why nobody told when she got the visa or when she was at Houston on her way to Guatemala that she couldn’t re-enter the United States if she left.