Society

Uruguayan Backpacker Arrested For Staying In U.S. 30 Minutes Too Long

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A South American backpacker was taken into federal custody in Washington state after he overstayed his visa by 30 minutes.

Diego Simonassi of Uruguay tried to enter Canada on the last day of his visa, June 14. He didn’t know that he needed another visa to cross the border.

He was turned away at the Peace Arch on the border of Blaine, Washington, and Surrey, British Columbia, by Canadian Authorities at 12:30 a.m.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then seized Simonassi.

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"And I asked for help, 'What can I do if I can't come back to the United States?' And without making a lot of questions he just arrested me," Simonassi said.

He was transported 145 miles south to the NW Detention Center in Tacoma, where he remains today, KOMO News reported.

Immigration attorney Steve Tanijo has taken on Simonassi’s case for free.

"I think it's ridiculous," Tanijo told KOMO. "I think it's one of the problems that we have with our immigration laws."

ICE offered to let him go on $7,500 bond, but Simonassi can’t afford it.

"No, I don't have it. And to be honest, I don't think I have to pay. I haven't done any crime or any illegal thing," he said.

They also will let him purchase a one-way flight back to Uruguay.

"Which also he doesn't want to do,” Tanijo said. “He just wants to continue his travel.”

"He's a backpacker. I used to backpack around the world, as well. I kind of relate," he said.

A hearing to lower his bond is two weeks away. If he makes bond, he will have to stay in the U.S. until he clears his visa violation.

Sources: KOMO News, Seattle Times