A 26-year-old woman says she was forced to miss her Thanksgiving dinner because she was racially profiled as a human-trafficking victim.
Stephanie Ung and a friend were returning home to Atlanta from a birthday trip to Cancun on Thursday when they were greeted at the gate by Customs and Border Patrol agents.
Ung tells 11Alive that she was detained and questioned for over an hour because someone reported her as a possible human trafficking victim.
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Stephanie Ung and a friend were detained at the Atlanta airport for more than an hour last week because Delta reported them as potential human trafficking victims
Ung told 11Alive that she thinks she and her friend were reported because of their Asian race
She thinks that fact that both her and her friend are Asian played into why they were suspected as victims
‘I know human trafficking is huge within the Asian community, right, and that’s the only reason why I could see you stopping me,’ Ung said. ‘That and the fact that I was in a dress. I was in a dress with some cardigans and boots, and I think that’s totally appropriate to fly on an airplane with.’
The whole time, she says she was treated more like a criminal than a victim and that when they eventually let her go, she didn’t even get an apology.
Most infuriating for Ung was the fact that she missed her Thanksgiving dinner because of the questioning.
‘I just kept telling them that I wanted to go home for my family Thanksgiving dinner, and that they were making me late, but they just didn’t care,’ Ung said through tears. ‘They just laughed.’
Ung (left in each friend) and her friend were returning from a birthday trip to Cancun
Ung says being detained at the airport forced her to miss her Thanksgiving dinner. She’s pictured left in the above photo
‘The fact that I missed dinner with my family — you can’t take that back,’ she added. ‘I can just look at the pictures and feel sad that I wasn’t a part of it.’
Delta told the outlet that they informed authorities about Ung and her friend after other passengers tipped flight staff off about the two.
An airline spokesman said that another passenger said that someone else was holing on to Ung and her friend’s passports for the ride, which can be a sign of trafficking. But Ung says she was in possession of her own passport for the trip.
‘While their investigation did show that our customers were not being trafficked, we train our crew members to remain alert and use their professional experience and practice best judgment to ensure the safety of all customers,’ Delta said.
The incident happened at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the country and a major Delta hub
The spokesman said they have tried reaching out to the girls to address their concerns, adding they are ‘troubled’ by the accusations of discrimination.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol would not comment publicly on the case, citing privacy issues.
However, they added that ‘if any traveler believes that an officer has acted in an unprofessional manner the traveler may choose to address that through our established systems. The best course of action is to ask to speak to an on duty supervisor at the location where the interaction occurred immediately.’