Locked up, booted out

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Entry point: A deported Canadian complains of her treatment at Queenstown Airport PICTURE: ODT

An Immigration officer is being accused of sexism and harassment by a deported Canadian.

Taisha Neil-Seebohm, who had a working holiday visa, was refused entry at Queenstown Airport on June 11.

She then spent four days in Queenstown police cells before being deported.

Neil-Seebohm’s issue isn’t over the immigration process.

She claims bully-boy tactics by an Immigration New Zealand staffer.

INZ defends the officer concerned. Head honchos point Neil-Seebohm to an online complaints form.

Border control didn’t officially confirm why she was detained, saying she hadn’t complied with “conditions of her visa”.

INZ refused to be interviewed.

In an emailed statement, border boss Senta Jehle says: “INZ takes allegations about the treatment of clients, harassment, and sexism very seriously.”

Neil-Seebohm says she was ushered into an interrogation room within five minutes of entering the terminal building.

“He did harass me, he was not nice, he freaked me out and scared me within a minute and then entrapped me in a bunch of questions.

“The way he treated me was not OK. I was barely fed.

“I’m 23, I can handle it, but it was not good.

“It ripped my whole life apart and I sat there in a cell for four days – my toilet didn’t even have a seat.”

Speaking to Mountain Scene from Canada, Neil-Seebohm says she was questioned for 20 to 30 minutes before a taped interview.

That’s standard, Immigration NZ says. Jehle: “The passenger was given the opportunity to comment on the concerns and the border officer followed the correct process.”

Neil-Seebohm reckons her card was marked. She claims he didn’t want to see her visa – or documentation proving she had a job offer at Cardrona skifield.

He asked how much dosh she had and about drug use.

Neil-Seebohm questions his “unfair” methods, saying they “suggest sexism and he neglected to inform me of several things which I was meant to know”.

She wants to know why she wasn’t released to an agreed address, rather than being jailed.

Immigration confirms the option is being trialled at three NZ airports.

Jehle adds: “All passengers who are refused entry permission are liable for turnaround … which means that they may be liable for arrest and detention.”

Neil-Seebohm claims she isn’t the only victim. An Australian friend, who can live and work in NZ, was sent packing from Queenstown three weeks earlier, she says.

Neil-Seebohm is now seeking legal advice.

Queenstown’s border controls made international headlines two years ago after a French au pair was locked up and deported because of concerns she might babysit for her Aussie employers.

Manon Pache, 18, later got an apology.

louises@scene.co.nz