Manpreet Kooner, 30, a Canadian citizen born in Montreal, told CBC that she was trying to get to a spa in Vermont for a day trip, but was held at the border for hours before eventually being denied entry.
“I know you may feel like you’ve been Trumped,” a border agent said, referencing the US president.
Kooner was then told to get in touch with the US Embassy in Ottawa and apply for the visa there. Kooner said that’s when she started to cry.
On Monday morning, the embassy told her that they couldn’t help her and that she would need to go to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In a statement, CBP said it did not discuss individual cases, and that those who present themselves at ports of entry must prove they fulfill admission requirements. The statement also mentioned that admission to the US is at the discretion of the border officers.
It further stated that the policy, adopted by CBP in 2014, “prohibits the consideration of ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances”.
Last summer, Kooner added, her mother had also been turned away at the border for unknown reasons.
Travellers from Canada and Bermuda usually do not need visas to enter the US, according to a US Embassy official. But certain Canadians do, for instance, who are either trying to immigrate or those planning to marry a US citizen. Kooner, however, does not fall into either group.
While Kooner was reluctant to attribute her situation to racism, she said, “people have said we need to take that into account here, because unfortunately, yeah, my skin colour is brown,” she said.
This article originally appeared on CBC.