The cat sitter asked if she recently had an official abortion after arriving in the United States. It turns out that an Australian airport’s blunder originally put a target on their backs.
Madolline Gourley was arrested on June 30 as she passed through Los Angeles on her way to Canada, where she planned to take care of people’s cats in exchange for free accommodation.
She claimed last week that prior to her detention and eventual deportation to Australia, US immigration officers patted her down and questioned her before asking if she was pregnant or had a recent abortion.
The confrontation made global headlines as it came shortly after the fall of the US Supreme Court Deer vs Wadewhich gives states the right to make abortion illegal.
Gourley, who is said to have violated the terms of the visa waiver program, revealed this week that it was a malfunction at Brisbane airport that caused her to fail in the US.
“When I checked in I had to go to the counter because the machine wouldn’t process my booking or let me check in so I actually had to see someone about it,” she told news.com.au.
“The lady printed my ticket from Brisbane to Los Angeles and then called someone who said American airline boarding passes don’t print,” she said.
“It sounded like a known issue. It didn’t sound like it was specific to my situation.”
The staff apparently decided that Gourley, who had no boarding passes for all three flights, would not pose a problem and set off with only her baggage receipt as proof.
Had she had all three passports, Gourley believes she would not have been kicked out of the US hours after arriving.
The immigration officer who detained her was not interested in looking at her baggage receipt and seemed convinced she was up to no good when he noticed that she did not have physical copies of her boarding passes for her routes via Philadelphia and Montreal, Queensland , locals had said.
He was also suspicious because she had only been in the country for a short time, although there was no legal or visa limit on how soon she could return.
“I did everything right, but he just wasn’t enjoying it,” she said.
Upon returning to Australia, where the inappropriate abortion confrontation made national headlines, Gourley was contacted by a US Border Protection officer assigned to investigate how it was being conducted at the Los Angeles airport.
The discussion took a sour turn, and the officer appeared to “put the blame” on Gourley for not raising her concerns at the time.
“They asked me why I didn’t ask the inappropriate questions to the manager and why I didn’t ask for a manager to intervene,” she recalls.
“It’s like being stopped by the police – you won’t ask to see the chief of police.
“I just felt like they hadn’t listened to anything else I said about my travel plans, so I figured it was unlikely they would listen to me on that front either.”
Despite the ordeal, Gourley is still keen to return overseas but has failed to get official help.
“I’ve tried contacting the Australian consulate, the US embassy and the DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and it just seems nobody really wants to help,” she said.
She has also been snubbed by the Trusted Housesitters website, which she has used for more than five years to sit cats in all parts of the world.
When she asked the website if they could help her, she was told it was up to immigration officials to decide who was allowed to travel where.
“So there doesn’t seem to be anything travelers can use to vouch for what the site is doing. It’s like you have to do it at your own risk,” she said.
Gourley’s only remaining option to have her denial of entry into the United States overturned is to file a freedom of information request.
“It’s just one disaster after another.”