A French teen who accidentally crossed the U.S. border while jogging on a beach in White Rock, B.C. is back in France after spending two weeks in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centre.
Nineteen-year-old Cedella Roman was on vacation when she decided to go for a run and inadvertently strayed across the border.
“I saw a small dirt path so I just wanted to go there to take a picture, but after that the battery of my phone was dead so I decided to go back… and when I went back to the dirt path the border official told me I did something wrong — I went illegally on United States territory,” Roman said from her home in Briançon, in the French region of Provence.
“I didn’t realized what had happened to me.”
WATCH: Detained border jogger speaks out
Roman, who was visiting her mother who lives in the area, didn’t have any identification with her at the time.
She was sent to an ICE detention centre in Tacoma, Wash., more than 200 km south of the U.S. border.
“I think it’s crazy,” she said. “When you’re from Europe, all the countries are open around there. I live close to Italy and we have trails close by…and we never have problems like this.
“I think when you’re from Canada and the U.S. you probably know that, but when you are from France it is completely crazy.”
She described her time in the detention centre as frustrating, with officials never seeming to give her clear answers.
WATCH: B.C. jogger inadvertently crosses the border and is detained for two weeks
“When you want to ask something in the detention, all the time they said, ‘I don’t know your case.'”
She noted that she met several migrants in the detention centre who faced much greater obstacles than she did.
Coverage of the Canadian border on Globalnews.ca:
“I think my case is not the most important case. When I was in the jail, there were a lot of cases that were more difficult than me,” she said. “I think there were cases worse than mine.”
She said her time in the centre reinforced her belief that we should “see immigrants not as bad people.”
“I lived with them and these people are like us.”
— With files from Jesse Ferreras and Rumina Daya