German exchange students detained at DIA, sent home after being accused of taking U.S. jobs
Author: Kara Mason - August 1, 2017 - Updated: August 4, 2017
Eight German exchange students headed for Salida got a taste of increasing political tensions regarding immigration policy in the U.S. over the weekend.
Before being detained at Denver International Airport, immigration officials “insisted they (the students) were coming in and taking work away from U.S. citizens, which is illegal since they have no work visa,” Susan Masterson, who has coordinated the exchange program for six years, told the Salida Mountain Mail.
Masterson said she was at the airport when the students were detained.
The students that planned on spending three weeks in the southern Colorado mountain town ended up spending Friday night in a detention facility. Meanwhile Masterson said she was in contact with state Rep. Jim Wilson, the governor’s office, Congressman Doug Lamborn’s office and Sen. Michael Bennet’s office.
But none could prevent the students, all 18 years old, from being deported back to Germany. Immigration enforcement officials determined the students were attempting to enter the country on the wrong visa, a tourist visa.
Masterson said she was blown away by the outpouring of support from different agencies. The Mountain Mail reported that Masterson wrote in a letter to the German families Lamborn’s office did everything they could to help, but “nothing could be done.”
“We’ve never had a problem like this before,” Masterson told Colorado Politics, adding that she has connections to the German school the students were coming from and hasn’t had a visa problem any of the years since she began the program.
So, was the incident a result of the contentious political climate surrounding immigration?
“Oh I think so,” Masterson said. “Controls have definitely tightened.”
The students have returned to their families, Masterson said. But “they don’t have a very good impression of our country.”
Masterson said she’s hoping to get the community to send some sort of letter to the students, so they know they’re welcomed in Salida.