Chilean student ‘happy to be free’ after being detained for nearly two weeks in Mountjoy

Immigration officials had refused Estefany Carolina Alquinta Gonzalez entry into the State

A Chilean student kept in isolation for almost two weeks in the female section of Mountjoy Prison after immigration officials refused to allow her enter the State has said she is “so happy to be free”.

Estefany Carolina Alquinta Gonzalez (33), a qualified environmental engineer, said her father’s death just two months ago from coronavirus added to her feeling “very low and scared” while detained here.

She was freed on Tuesday after the State did not contest a High Court-ordered inquiry into the legality of her detention.

She had come to Ireland on July 2nd from Denmark, where her boyfriend lives, to pursue an English language course at a Dublin-based language school but was detained at Dublin Airport by immigration officials and denied entry on grounds she represented a real and immediate threat to the fundamental policy interests of the State.

She denied she posed any such risk, provided documents and proof of funds and said she had booked accommodation where she planned to self-isolate for two weeks.

She was committed to the Dóchas Centre where she was isolated from other prisoners due to Covid-19 regulations.

Following her release yesterday, Ms Gonzalez, accompanied by Siobhán Clabby of Abbey Solicitors, went to Dublin Airport to collect her phone, passport and other documents from immigration.

Speaking to The Irish Times, an emotional Ms Gonzalez said: “My father died from coronavirus two months ago and the time in prison was killing me, I was very low. I was isolated all the time and thinking of him; I felt he was with me all the time.

“The people in prison who were dealing with me were kind but I was very scared. I did not know what was going to happen to me.”

‘So worried’

Her family in Chile were very worried about her and were in contact daily and she was allowed one six-minute phone call from the prison daily to them.

“I am so happy now to be free and to have my phone back and to be able to read all the messages from my family, they were so worried, they did not know what was going on.”

She has booked into a hotel but hopes to find accommodation in Dublin and complete her language course, which began online on July 6th, to enhance her career prospects.

“Ireland has not been the most welcoming part of my journey to Europe. This time is very weird everywhere. I am just happy to be free but I feel no one deserved something like this.”