After weeks in jail, backpacker celebrates 4th of July freedom
SEATTLE -- A backpacker from South America celebrated Independence Day with his first full day of independence.
Until Thursday evening, Diego Farre (Simonassi) was locked in immigration jail for staying 30 minutes too long on his visa.
The 29-year old traveler from Uruguay is savoring his freedom on a tour of Seattle after 18 days being locked away in the immigration jail in Tacoma. It was all because he was 30 minutes over on his 6-month travel visa when he tried to cross the border and didn't have a visa for Canada.
"Everybody was agreed that my case was ridiculous saying, 'You don't have to be here. You're going out.' But the days were passing," Farre said.
But after his attorney, Steve Tanijo, brought Diego's case to the KOMO Problem Solvers, it hit the airwaves and internet and became an international incident.
"And then the news came along and the other day in the afternoon they told me you're going out. Just less than a day," Farrre said.
The doors to the prison suddenly opened for Farre in time to celebrate this day.
"Independence Day, yes," said Farre, "Here in the U.S. Independence Day. It's kind of funny like my story, you know."
Farre said this incident doesn't change his opinion of the United States.
"No, because it wasn't the U.S. that put me in there. It was a mistake of a person. I did a mistake, he did a mistake," he said.
Now his concern is for the people he met in the detention center. He's hoping his case can shine the light on their plight.
"What happened to me is like a symbol of worse things that are happening in there," said Farre. "So I'm glad to put the face to the solution."
His challenge isn't over. Farre was given a 30-day extension on his visa. But the normal wait time for a Canadian visa is 35 days. The Problem Solvers are stepping in to see if that process can't be speeded up.