Expired Visa Mixup Lands British Couple in American Jail, Called Illegal Aliens

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A U.S. vacation turned into a nightmare for one Scottish couple who spent five weeks in an American jail due to confusion over their visas.

Barbara Dixon, 52, and Richard Cross, 75, were on an extended vacation from Newtonmore, Scotland, spent three months in the states visiting family. They planned a side trip to Canada before returning to the U.S.

They believed that their expired 90-day visa waivers would be automatically renewed after crossing into Canada, reports The Scotsman.

But, back at the American border, customs officials forgot to stamp their visas. When this was later discovered by border patrol in Texas, the pair was arrested for being illegal aliens, reports Scottish news service STV.

Despite attempts to assure authorities the whole thing was a misunderstanding, Dixon and Cross were placed in a high security jail in El Paso, Texas, after spending five hours in questioning.

For five weeks the couple says they were not allowed to see each other and were forced to endure unbearable conditions like sleeping on bare mattress in dormitories that housed 60 inmates.

"Using open toilets cemented our loss of dignity," Dixon told The Scotsman. "All 60 of us women were taken to an exercise yard for an hour a day, but it was so cramped you could barely move. It was horrific."

She added that the ordeal took a serious toll on her husband's physical health.

The couple was eventually deported back to the U.K. in April. They plan to file a complaint with the UK Foreign Office.

And, though they have visited the U.S. many times, they have no plans to ever return. Check out STV for a video interview with the couple.


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