Aussie Woman Stripped Naked and Imprisoned While Trying to Visit Her U.S. Boyfriend

An Aussie woman says she was stripped naked and imprisoned while trying to visit her boyfriend in Hawaii. Molly Hill was entering as a tourist with an allowable 90 day stay, and she had tickets to return home after 88 days.

“I was in shock… I was in an interview room from 9.30am until 4.30pm,” Ms Hill told 9NEWS.

“I was told to stand completely naked, they went through my hair, I showed them the soles of my feet and my mouth and then they asked me to squat and cough.

Since she was going to be gone so long she had drinks with friends to say goodbye and turned off her electricity at home. These were noted in her appointment book which she had with her.

    Molly Hill, Facebook

After a night in detention she was brought back to the airport in handcuffs to purchase an AU$620 flight back Down Under.

She said her bunkmate was a drug mule. After a sleepless night, she was startled at dawn by a flashlight to the face. It was her birthday.

‘They said “you’re getting released”.’ I was supposed to be spending the day with my boyfriend, but I was still detained.’

Ms Hill was cuffed again, escorted back to the airport then paraded in front of holiday-goers on the way back to the holding room.

‘It was not very discreet. I could feel everyone judging me. I’ve never felt so humiliated.’

She was then forced to buy a $620 ticket to Sydney — despite living in Melbourne and already having a return ticket home.

The US government says they acted appropriately,

The US Customs and Border Protection said their initial investigation showed “US offices acted according to current laws and regulations”.

“(There’s been no) wrongdoing of any kind,” the organisation said in a statement to 9NEWS.

Here’s her story on Facebook.

To be sure, under U.S. law Customs and Border Protection has extremely broad latitude to exercise their discretion about whom to allow into the country and whom not to. A CBP officer believed Ms. Hill intended to stay longer than she said (and longer than her return flight itinerary suggested). Still that CBP officer may well have been wrong and non-citizens don’t have very many rights in the process.

Earlier this month another Australian was arrested when he accidentally overstayed his visa by several minutes when he was returned into the U.S. by Canadian immigration authorities. Increasingly the U.S. appears unwelcoming to our Aussie friends.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. An Australian versus US Border Patrol, I know who I believe and it ain’t the Aussie sheila. Look at it LOL. Commonly referred to as a scrubber in colloquial terms.

  2. 20 years ago it was common knowledge that when my girlfriend came to visit me that she and anyone she knew not say they had a boyfriend or romantic relationship with someone in the US. This always caused problems and could get you turned back. Immigration can assume since you have a romantic relationship with a US citizen you intend to stay here and that is illegal, so you get sent back. It had happened to others we knew. We did have trouble getting her in on one occasion, so after fighting that out for several months we got married inside the USA and she didn’t leave until she had her green card. We now have been married for 16 years and have three wonderful children.

    Don’t tell immigration you have a romantic relationship with someone inside the USA if you want to (legally) stay!

  3. USA citizens perceived to be doing the same thing would get similar treatment on arrival here in Oz.

    Dunno who she was trying to kid.

  4. The previous posters clearly believe in guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent. There’s nothing illegal about having a US boyfriend and there’s nothing illegal in staying 88 days. I do agree that it looks suspicious but there has to be a better way than treating someone like a criminal.

    And, as a separate matter, there should be some due process in all of this. Giving people unlimited power with no requirement to exercise it in accordance with specified criteria is plain wrong.

  5. @ tommyleo – I’m sure there is, but investigating it would require some actual work and the answer might not fit the narrative, so…

  6. @NB

    The way it was explained to us is that persons coming into the USA can be assumed to have the intention to stay by INS and have the duty to convince INS otherwise. Having a romantic attachment to a person in the US is cause to assume you will want to stay with them and thus stay in the USA. In effect, you are guilty until proven innocent. In this case, you are guilty of entering the USA without the proper paperwork to immigrate and therefore must be turned away. A non US citizen who has not yet been given entry has almost no rights at the border, INS has wide latitude as to what they can do. I am not endorsing this policy, I’m simply reporting it.

  7. @Ron—exactly–you nailed it. More click-bait for bloggers. If the full story comes out, it’s unlikely we’ll hear it on this blog–if it doesn’t fit the Victimhood narrative.

  8. Unless they had solid evidence she was smuggling drugs, there is no excuse for it. Visiting your boyfriend for 88 days is not grounds for being stripped nude, held for prolonged hours, and forced to buy a new ticket when you already have one. The U.S. is becoming aggressively hostile to foreign visitors, even from allied countries.

    Thank you Gary for your principled and consistent stands for freedom and against abuse of power. Some are willing to give up liberties and endure acts typical of a police state in the name of a false sense of security.

  9. @Paul

    Yes – this is precisely the point. Guilty until you can prove yourself innocent is not the way civilised societies are meant to operate. And giving people no rights – not even basic rights – is also not the way that civilised societies are meant to operate.

    And, of course, your solution is the pragmatic one – simply lie. But surely that’s not what the US Government wants to encourage?

    As to the facts of this case, it very much looks as though the girl might have intended to stay, or at least was open-minded about it. There’s absolutely no way of telling what was in her head and there never is in these cases, which is why I suggested that there has to be a better way in cases such as these, where no criminality is suggested, and where people’s hearts are overwhelming their brains.

  10. Great critical analysis from TLiT. Undoubtedly is a lot more to this story, but that doesn’t fit the View from the Left narrative.

  11. To all those quantified sociopaths who think there’s “more to the story”: is it OK if I look in your wife’s bodily cavities? Send pics now or you’re yellow. Because turning away a visa-holding tourist does not require it. So it was “extra sauce” and not needed. But you think it’s OK, so let me at your wives and daughters.

  12. If you visit any country as a tourist, you have to demonstrate ties to your home, or you will quite likely be refused entry. Cutting off utility service and having a going away party may be innocent, but they’re also the act of someone leaving. Having a SO that you’re visiting further increases that.

    Lying about romantic relationships can get complicated, and certainly lying to customs is in itself grounds for deportation (and being banned for years). In this case, if she said she was coming in for 88 days just to Hawaii and “didn’t know anyone”, it’d set off all kinds of alarms too. You’re better off just ensuring that you can demonstrate full ties home, finding as many things as you can. A letter from your employer confirming your leave of absence and return date, plans that you have for when you get back, packing relatively lightly. Expect that they will read your email and text messages.

    As for her being strip searched… yes. That’s what anyone is subjected to when being taken into a detention center. It helps ensure that other detainees and guards are safe. I agree that it’s humiliating and degrading, but it’s also considered a reasonable safety precaution.

  13. The fact that this woman was given the once-over resembling a prison intake induction leads me to think they suspected her of drug smuggling.
    Or is it likely the officers concerned were pervy voyeurs, with a tasty piece of ass (as you Americans would say) to check out? Seems very odd to me, but I guess both possibilities are out there. FYI, a lot of highly respectable regular travellers from Australia are now avoiding travelling to, or even transitting through the USA, in the current chaotic political climate.

  14. I’m with ROBBO. She looks well past her age and there are no photos to be found of this supposed boyfriend on her Facebook page. Perhaps she was looking to make a little money in Hawaii.

  15. @coolhandluke – exactly zero Americans ever use the phrase “tasty piece of ass”. And FYI, there are many Americans avoiding Australia due to your practice of shipping migrants off to inhumane island prisons.

  16. NB…

    1/ The law provides for a presumption of Immigrant Intent. It is the obligation of the person seeking entry to prove that they do not intend to immigrate/overstay/work illegally etc.

    2/ She sought admission under the VWP – which explicitly waives your appeal rights. Want appeal rights – enter under a B1/B2 visa and you have more rights, including the ability to change status after entry. (Of course – you wouldn’t want to attempt to change status immediately after entry, lest you run into issues of Presumed Intent).

    3/ She clearly raised suspicions with the initial CBP officer – who sent her to secondary. At secondary they inspected her belongings, found further items which raised more suspicion that she was not entering for “temporary” reasons; and no doubt her story failed to reassure them.

    4/ The only reason she was strip-searched, was because she was sent to detention while awaiting a return flight.

    Personally – I have little sympathy for her, based on the published details (including her own account).

    It’s not about being presumed guilty – it’s just the way it works, and from the reported details – she may as well have been traveling with her boogie board bag at the same time 😉

  17. Ha, love these comments. Your Customs service, this time an Australian women, next time your wife/ daughter/ son – 3 days confinement without contact, “so, explain this usb again”?

    As a nation, America is turning into a whiny, self important bunch of losers. Only have themselves to blame.

  18. @NB actually there is even more to the story than what Gary wrote. She had quit her job in Australia as well. The combination of quitting her job, airplane tickets for almost the max amount of time, saying goodbye to friends, shutting off the power to her place and apparently no husband or kids or firm roots in Australia is very suspicious. Add in to the fact that she is coming here because of a guy and it can certainly appear that she is intending to stay with him. Did she need to be strip searched? Absolutely not. I get that is probably a correctional policy, but for people they are merely denying entry there should be a totally different holding area and no searches compared to people who are being criminally charged. Still these people at customs can be terrible and they really have no proof she intended to overstay. This just gives the US another black eye and reinforces the idea around the world that everyone gets thrown into prison. Forcing her to buy a ticket back to the wrong city? What the hell is wrong with these people?

  19. @CoolHandLuke the article is quite clear what the issue is. She appeared like she was intending to stay. I’m willing to bet they looked at her return tickets being 88 days later and that set off the alarm. Then when they went further it just looked worse and worse. I’m not saying I agree with them but I don’t think for a second they suspected her of being involved with drugs and the strip search was likely done at the correctional facility by female officers and not the people who stopped her initially. Then again I wouldn’t put it past CBP to be pervs and do something like this.

  20. Lets see going away party, who has one of those. AH my neighbors gave me one, when I went Israel once they thought I wasn’t coming back for strange reason, when I fully intended on coming back and did. I had neighbors with over active imaginations.
    Shutoff her Electricity, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm????
    Quit her Job, must not of been a very good job.
    Now what did have to go back for??

    Like Dave F, said. Too many questionable statements by her that just do not add up.

    Oh Coolhand I have never heard your phrase of Tasty Piece of @$$ and I have served in two branches of U.S. Military traveled to 46 of 50 states. Sounds like an Aussie phrase to me or one and Aussie made up and said the heard in the U.S. when they probably never even been here.

    Problem is too many people think they can do what they want when they want and think every one else is stupid and cannot figure when they are being lied. New flash not everyone in America is a Democrat our last election should show you that.

  21. Couple of problems here.

    Firstly, the lack of demand by Australians to live in the USA means that we can easily get E3 working visas for the whole family anyway.

    Not that I’ve ever met an Aussie who wanted one. We love America and we love Americans, but rather like a supermodel, we’re not going to move to work anywhere with less than 4 weeks guaranteed vacation time per year. It’s not going to happen!

    Usually illegal immigration is FROM countries with lots of poverty TO countries with high minimum wages for unskilled people.

    But the USA is far, far worse off than Australia in both regards – by law no adult can earn less than $15 per hour in Australia.

    So there is no reason for anyone to be an illegal economic migrant from Australia to the USA.

    Especially when you factor in that she’d have no health insurance in the USA if she overstayed her holiday insurance.

    The whole story sounds rather like being an economic migrant from the USA to Mexico. It’s an absurd concept.

    So either she was acting in a way which was genuinely suspicious, or CBP could do with a little more training.

    I’m tempted to side with CBP.

  22. Given that she turned off her electricity at home and had a boyfriend in the USA, I can certainly see how CBP might question the ultimate intent of her visit, in which case they would be within their rights to deny her entry.

    But unless there was some evidence she was smuggling drugs or other contraband, it seems the strip search was uncalled for. Given that she appears a very attractive lass, it’s not far fetched to think that the agents just wanted to enjoy a free look at her assets.

  23. We need more babes like this visiting the USA. Trump will not be happy to learn that CBP is deporting Aussie hotties. They are not the intended targets of his secure the border plan, and I expect heads will roll.

  24. For those feeling bad for this girl there are some additional facts that have come to light since this article was published. She was traveling with a series of documents including her birth certificate, old passports and college transcripts. That gave border patrol officials a reason to believe she had intended to get married in the States. This information along with the fact that she had shut off her electricity back home, that she had quit her job, that she had drinks with her friends to say goodbye, that she was attempting to stay almost the entire time allowed and that she is coming to see a man she has a romantic relationship with really build a strong case that she is lying about her intentions for entering the country. I feel zero sympathy for her. She should have followed the law and applied for the appropriate visas, instead of coming in under the false pretense of being a tourist. We don’t need more dishonest people in this country. We already have one running it.

  25. @Boraxo I wouldn’t put it by Trump to have an exception for foreign women of a certain level of attractiveness when it comes being allowed to enter the country. Actually they do that at bars already where they have hot women show up so all the men go in there. Maybe the US should do the same thing on a larger scale. Let all the hot women in for free and raise the visa fees for all the men that want to get into the country to see them. May be one way to drive tourism.

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