My life took an unexpected turn in 2016 when I was deported from the United States. This is the genuine tale of how I lost my ESTA visa and had to face the repercussions.
It all started with a vacation to Hawaii, where I had been living for many months as a Digital Nomad. Life was great and I was enjoying myself. However, as the Fourth of July came, hotel fees rose, making accommodations unaffordable for me.
As my stay in Hawaii was coming to a close, a buddy from Bogota, Colombia, renewed an offer that I had previously turned down. Despite having no previous desire to visit Colombia, I decided to accept his invitation.
I came to Bogota, Colombia with no plans to engage in any illicit activity. My friend had a history of cocaine addiction, but I was determined to avoid such temptations. My stay in Colombia lasted three months, during which time I met a persistent homeless guy and purchased two tiny packages of marijuana. I’d heard that it may assist with my sciatica pain, and it also sounded like a good way to get that annoying person off our backs.
I concealed the marijuana in my Airbnb because I didn’t want the cleaner to discover it and criticize me. When I went back to test it a few days later, it vanished. I imagined the cleaner had discovered it and disposed of it, never thinking about it again.
Fast forward to the night of the 2016 presidential election in the United States. I eagerly packed my things, excited to return to Hawaii. I had no idea that my vacation would take an unexpected turn. When I arrived in Houston, US Customs authorities questioned my three-month stay in Colombia. They discovered my North Korean trinkets and interrogated me about them, but their major interest was my stay in Colombia.
The authorities assumed I was carrying illicit drugs and continuously questioned me about it. I denied any participation in illegal drugs and completely cooperated with their investigation. As they were going through my possessions, a bag of marijuana dropped out of my notebook, much to my astonishment. I had completely forgotten it was even there.
When they questioned me about the marijuana, I said that I had purchased it in Colombia out of curiosity. They chastised me for bringing it into the country and warned me that it was a major offence. They tested the marijuana multiple times, seeming startled that it kept coming back as a false positive. When it tested positive, they decided to take action.
I was led to a crowded holding area, where I waited for hours, unable to eat due to dietary restrictions. I was eventually hauled in for additional questioning, and I was asked to fill out a U.S. admission application form. During this time, they told me of the repercussions I would face. I wouldn’t be allowed to return to the United States unless I applied for a visa, which would be a difficult procedure.
The Deportation document I was served when sent home back to Australia
I discovered that United Airlines would be liable for my deportation costs, and they offered me the option of returning to Sydney or Melbourne in Australia. I selected Sydney since it was closer to home because I resided in Brisbane.
They had intended to handcuff me for the flight but changed their minds. Instead, an officer was assigned to sit next to me on the journey back to Australia. Finally, I was deported, leaving the life I had made in Hawaii behind.
My deportation from the United States was sobering, a sharp reminder of the repercussions of my conduct. I had walked into the unknown and made a hasty choice that would have long-term consequences. It taught me the value of making responsible decisions and following the rules of whatever nation I visit. While my ESTA visa was cancelled, I learned an important lesson that I will remember for the rest of my life.