DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – A group of eight students from Germany was detained by immigration officials after arriving at Denver International Airport Friday night, according to several reports.
The group has not left the airport. CBS4 has learned those officials plan to return the students on the next plane departing for Germany. That plane, we are told, leaves DIA at 5:15 p.m.
The group arrived in Colorado intending to take part in a weeks-long internship at Rocky Mountain Language Adventure in Salida.
A spokesperson for the program, Susan Beilharz Masterton, confirmed the detainment of the students. She said she was working to gain the students’ release.
An immigration offical said the process is a routine one and interruptions of travel similar to this are not uncommon.
Germany is a visa-waiver country, said immigration officials. A traveler coming from Germany in this capacity may be interviewed by customs agents. If during that interview a person says they are planning on working here, or make any mention of work or job, immigration officials have right to “expedite removal” and have that person or persons returned to Germany immediately.
It’s not unusual, according to immigration officials, and “happens all the time.”
A statement CBS4 received from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection regional office in California states “applicants for admission bear the burden of proof to establish that they are clearly eligible to enter the United States.”
A spokesperson from that office said he is prohibited from speaking about specific cases due to privacy law. But he also noted the CBP denies entry to an average of 700 people a day. That’s less than 1/10 of one percent of the 1 million people admitted daily.
A Facebook page operated by Rocky Mountain Language Adventure shows a series of posts from August of 2016. Those posts contains photos of young adults playing softball, climbing mountains, biking, fishing, horseback riding, and dining with host families.
A German-language description of the program and its activities says the program is four weeks long and caters to high school seniors.
It also includes a potential point of contention: “volunteering” in small establishments (eg restaurant, newspaper, internship in the hospital and others).”
CBS4 has confirmed that at least one host family is waiting in Salida for a resolution. A relative from that family says this program has been hosting German students for 10 years.