(Barbados Nation) “The worst experience of my life!”
That is how 23-year-old Shonae Proverbs summed up her two-day encounter at the hands of Immigration officials two weeks ago at Grantley Adams International Airport.
Proverbs, who married her Barbadian sweetheart Gladston Bridgeman in Jamaica last January, said she was coming here to spend some time with her husband and to bring their wedding cake for him and his family to share.
After she was detained at the airport and threatened with deportation, her husband secured the services of attorney Douglas Trotman, who filed an urgent application at the High Court to have her released.
She was temporarily released into the care and custody of her husband, but is due to attend a court hearing on May 30.
Proverbs, who arrived in Barbados on March 20, said after a lengthy interrogation with Immigration officials at the airport, she was informed that she was being denied entry because she had previously been deported for overstaying her time.
“I told them that I was never deported from Barbados,” she stated, pointing out that she had come here twice before.
She said she was put in a holding cell with two other Jamaican women who were also being deported.
“They were crying and saying that they were being treated like criminals. The cell was small and nasty. There was water on the floor and the toilet was filthy,” she stated.
She said her suitcases were thoroughly searched and later that day she was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital along with three other Jamaicans to be scanned for drugs.
“It was very embarrassing. At one point an Immigration officer told me not to remove my panties and when I didn’t, they said I was hiding drugs. I had to let them know that I was told not to remove my panties,” she stated.
Proverbs said she was most shocked by the behaviour of the Immigration officials.
“They would come into the room and laugh at us and taunt us. One of them said to me, ‘I saw you stripping in the club’.
I told her I was not a stripper.”
She said the next day she was treated even worse when her attorney informed her she had the right not to get on the plane.
“They were taking me to board the plane, but they called my husband to collect the wedding cake from me. When my husband came into the door, Mr Trotman rushed in with him and told me that I had the right not to board the plane and I could discuss it with my husband.”
Shonae said she immediately told the Immigration officer that she was not getting on the flight.
“I was scared and trembling and the Immigration officer started screaming at me that I was a prisoner now and she will treat me like a prisoner.
“They took my bags from me and said I will not be getting any food or water – that I would have to buy what I want – and they took me straight to the cells. It was a good thing that my husband had given me money because I had to buy food to eat and coffee to drink. I was stressed and so scared. This was the first time that I was ever treated like this
“Another time they came into the cell and started quarrelling with me and asking me who Mr Trotman think he is, that he don’t run Immigration.”
Shonae said she was happy when she was finally released into her husband’s care.
“This is not a scam. This is real. We have been dating since 2008 and we are in love,” she said.
Bridgeman, who was upset at how his wife was treated, said he spent the two days pacing outside the Arrival Hall at the airport because Immigration officials refused him access to his wife.
He explained that they got married on January 26 in Jamaica because she was denied an extension to her stay.
“We had everything planned to be married in the Anglican Church, but when she went to the Immigration Department for an extension, they turned her down and said it was best for her to return to Jamaica and come back.
“I went down with her and we got married there, and I returned home because I had to go back to work. I left her in Jamaica to deal with the marriage certificate. I was planning to surprise her with a honeymoon at one of the hotels when she got in.”
Meanwhile, Ricky Ward has found himself in the same situation as Bridgeman. The only difference is that Ward’s wife Lisa Betty was deported to Jamaica after being detained for four days at the airport.
Ward, of Belfield Road, Black Rock, St Michael, complained that his wife arrived in Barbados on March 15 but was denied entry.
“They told her that she could not enter because she had been deported before, but that was not true because I left Barbados with her in December and we got married in Jamaica,” he said.
He pointed out that he was introduced to the woman over a year ago by a friend.
“I had several plans for us to spend our honeymoon and Immigration held her at the airport for four days without even giving her anything to eat. I had to take food and money to the airport for her. I have been calling the Chief Immigration Officer to find out what is going on, but all I keep getting is the runaround,” he stated.