U.S. frees traveler from Uruguay

TACOMA — A man from Uruguay who spent six months backpacking around the United States, then found himself jailed for over-extending his visit by 30 minutes, is free.

Diego Farre-Simonassi was trying to enter Canada on his last day on June 14 when he was turned back at the Peace Arch crossing because he didn’t have a visa.

It was 30 minutes past midnight when he asked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for help. Agents arrested him, and he was held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma until Thursday evening.

An immigration lawyer, Steve Tanijo, stepped in to help. Tanijo tells KOMO-TV that the “punishment did not fit the mistake.”

Now the visitor has 30 days to get his affairs in order and leave the U.S. on his own. He said he plans to talk with the Canadian consulate to see if it can expedite his visa since there’s currently a 35-day wait.

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