UPDATED: Kaiser couple's parents detained by U.S. Customs, reported safe in China

1 month 4 weeks 2 hours ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 5:20:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
By: Erica Munsinger, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

KAISER - One family says it is facing an immigration nightmare. Jia McDevitt's parents were detained at the Jacksonville, Florida, port after a family cruise in the Bahamas. 

KOMU 8's sister station in Jacksonville, WTLV, is reporting that the parents are safe in China.

"We chose the Bahamas because we were told that Chinese citizens and the Bahamas have a mutual agreement where they can go with only a passport, no visa," said her husband, Joe McDevitt.

Jia McDevitt's parents are residents of China, but they have been visiting family in the U.S. Her father has late stage cancer.

"We're really worried about her dad. He's at the end. The only thing he wanted to do was meet his granddaughter," Joe McDevitt said.

Within minutes of getting off the Carnival Cruise boat, Joe McDevitt said, his parents-in-law were detained. The family was told the two would be sent back to China and that Carnival Cruise was footing the bill.

"I one hundred percent feel like Carnival could've prevented this. It's hard to get on an airplane. It's not easy. You have to go through lots of check points, which we did. If there was any reason they couldn't let us return to the U.S., they should not have let us on that boat. I would've gladly lost the money to keep my family in tact," Joe McDevitt said. 

The family said U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not give them any information on why the couple is being detained. 

A Columbia immigration attorney said there could be a number of reasons. 

"If an officer suspects violation of visa or that the immigrant no longer has intent to return to their home country, the officer may detain the person," Stephen Blower said.

Joe McDevitt is an army officer, and he said he believes that fact should prove there is no reason to believe either of those ideas.

"I'm telling you, they came here legally," McDevitt said. "They've been properly vetted. I have a secret security clearance, and my brother does. I'm sure they went through something in relation with me. I am more than sure."

Joe McDevitt said his mother-in-law has come the the U.S. twice before and never overstayed her visa. He said he believes customs agents acted illegally when detaining the couple. He worries they will not be treated well. 

Blower said customs officers are not easily challenged and non-resident travelers must be particularly cautious.

"If you aren't a resident, don't take anything you do for granted," Blower said. "Anything that involves a legal process may apply a little differently to you."

Joe McDevitt said his family is devastated.

"This is the American dream, this is what people want," McDevitt said. "We're over here trying to do the right thing, trying to come in here the correct way."

*Editors note: This story has been updated.

More News

Grid
List
BRANSON - The recent boat incident that killed 11 and injured seven in Branson isn't the first time Ride the... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 2:06:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Thursday evening around 9:00 pm, two cars collided head-on at the intersection of Worley St. and W. Boulevard.... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:14:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia confirmed Friday the household hazardous waste collection is cancelled. The waste collection was... More >>
7 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 10:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- More illnesses have been reported across the United States in two separate cyclospora outbreaks, federal health officials said... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:31:35 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
BRANSON - The Stone County Sheriff has confirmed that Missouri State Highway Patrol diving searches have ended for the night... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:12:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Gun-rights activists have reached a settlement with the government that... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 8:57:04 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Loop CID met with the Planning and Zoning Committee Thursday night to discuss future plans for Business... More >>
10 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 7:46:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri House Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty will resign later this week to take a job... More >>
11 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:55:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
DES MOINES, Iowa - Pella Regional Health Center spokeswoman Billie Rhamy confirmed Thursday evening injuries were minor and all patients... More >>
11 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in Continuous News
(CNN) - President Donald Trump hopes to welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin in Washington this fall, White House press secretary... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 5:09:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Planned Parenthood advocates demonstrated a mock health care waiting room in Governor Parson's office Thursday. The... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 4:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has charged a former Greenville city clerk with stealing more than... More >>
14 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:07:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — State conservation officials say six black bears have died after being hit by vehicles in Missouri... More >>
14 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:02:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
ALBANY (AP) — Prosecutors say a northern Missouri man and woman subjected an 11-year-old girl to nearly a year of... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:54:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
POPLAR BLUFF (AP) — A police detective and an official with the U.S. Marshals Service are recovering after being shot... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:39:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A southern Missouri sheriff and a subordinate have been indicted on multiple felonies following a... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:33:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
MANSFIELD (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a Florida man suspected of shooting a trooper is hospitalized in... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:19:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Three carnival workers have been arrested in the deaths of two vendors who disappeared from... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 68°
6am 71°
7am 72°
8am 76°
9am 80°