Leading Australian children’s book writer Mem Fox has said she felt “physically assaulted” after being detained and questioned by border control agents at Los Angeles airport, who questioned her visa.
The author of Ten Little Fingers and Possum Magic said that, despite nearly 120 previous visits to the US, she was unlikely to return following her experience.
Fox was travelling to a conference in Milwaukee earlier this month, when she was stopped. She described her experience of being detained for over an hour and a half to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Fox told ABC that the border agents appeared to have been given a “turbocharged power” by US President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban to “humiliate and insult” a room filled with people they had detained to check visas.
She said: “I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness. I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby, and I’m 70 years old.”
The author said she was questioned, despite having visited America 116 times before without incident, and was eventually granted access. She told ABC: "My heart was pounding so hard as I was waiting to be interviewed, because I was observing what was happening to everybody else in the room. They accused me of coming in on the wrong visa and they were totally wrong about that.”
Fox complained to the Australian embassy in Washington and the US embassy in Canberra and received an apology from US officials, it is reported. She told ABC that she it was unlikely she would visit again because of the incident.
Her first publication, Possum Magic, is the best selling children’s book in Australia and is still available in hardback 34 years after it was published. Her books have been translated into 19 languages.