Manpreet Kooner, born and raised in Montreal to Indian parents, says she was denied entry at the U.S. border because she lacked a valid immigration visa.
The 30-year-old LaSalle resident was heading to a Vermont spa with two Caucasian friends Sunday morning.
She told Global News an agent checked her passport and pulled her over, saying they needed to ask her more questions.
“My friends, Alex and Kristin, are both white, Canadian born,” Kooner told Global News.
“My name is Manpreet and I’m Indian.”
Border agents at the Highgate Springs customs held them for six hours before turning them around.
Kooner said she told border agents she was a Canadian citizen, travelling on a Canadian passport and has no criminal record.
“I’m being called an immigrant and being told ‘don’t you ever come back to the states again without a visa,’” she told Global News.
While informing her that she would not be allowed to enter the U.S., the officer apparently told her that she “may feel like you’ve been trumped,” referencing U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which bars access from people coming from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.
Iraq was previously on the list, but was removed in a revised executive order Monday.
Kooner, a chemistry lab technician at Marianopolis College in Montreal, explained the agents did not speak to her friends.
“I feel like I’m a criminal, like I’ve done something wrong, but I haven’t,” she said.
“I’m speechless, I can’t believe this is happening.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Global News it cannot discuss individual cases, but noted “that possession of a valid travel document does not guarantee entry to the United States.”
WATCH BELOW: Denied entry into the U.S.
Not the first time
She said the agent mentioned a time she had been stopped in December — she says, to go to a wine festival in New York with friends, and asked why she was trying to enter the country again.
“I never had any issues. Just last summer, my girlfriends and I went to Vegas and my fiancé also took me to Napa,” she said.
Kooner explained to Global News she was previously stopped in December and told she couldn’t go through because agents couldn’t process her entry in the computer.
They told her to return the next day; the group of friends rented a hotel room, returned the next morning and crossed without any issue.
Heading to Ottawa
Sunday, she says the border agent advised her that in order to travel to the U.S., she needed an immigrant visa and to get one at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
But when she got to the embassy on Monday morning, she was told that it was “odd” that border agents advised her to do so as she doesn’t need one and it’s a waste of money.
“It’s like a circle, now I’m confused,” she told Global News.
“I have to pick out the flowers to my wedding and at the same time, figure out my immigration status.”
Kooner said the embassy told her to go back to the border.
“I thought to myself, here we go again. Why me? What’s happening? I was sick to my stomach,” she said.
Kooner said she also spent thousands on tickets to attend a music festival in Miami at the end of the month, as well as a trip in May for her bachelorette party.
The 30-year-old said she doesn’t know what to do and is unsure if she should still go.
She’s getting married in Mexico in June.