An unbelievable story emerged on Thursday about a 24 year old Brazilian ex-Au pair that wanted to visit her former host family and instead was put into prison.

Paloma Aparezida Silva-Carvalho from Sao Paulo was in Switzerland to visit her boy friend and then had planned to come to Ireland to visit her former host family in Galway. She had worked here before as an au pair for 18 months in 2015/2016 and now intended to come back to stay with the family for 2 months. Immigration officers at Dublin airport, however, were convinced that she wanted to enter the country to work illegally and therefore arrested her and out her in prison where she was strip searched and locked in a cell overnight. :-O

The host family was contacted and confirmed that she was expected to come for holidays, but the immigration officers still decided to send her to prison and told her that she would be sent back to Switzerland the next day.

Now the information in the newspapers doesn’t seem to be fully congruent and the Independent and the Irish Times have told the the story in slightly different ways and have changed the story during the day, but here are some details that were reported:
1) Brazilian citizens do not need a visa to visit Ireland as long as they will stay less than 90 days
2) Paloma had a booked return flight and had EUR 1000 cash with her, so there was plenty of money and clear intention to leave

The EUR 1000 was not mentioned anymore in a later version of the Irish Times story. Also in an earlier version the Irish Times reported that the former Au Pair had decided to leave Ireland immediately once she got released from prison with a permission to stay for just 10 days. But a later version explained that the family actually did collect her and the 10 days reference wasn’t there anymore.

Sooo, we don’t know all the details by the looks of it and even the newspapers don’t really seem to know, but what must have happened there?

A young woman arrives from a foreign country. She worked here before and now came without a work permit. But she planned to stay for a relatively long period of time (2 months) and school holidays are also that long, so there is a possibility that she will look after the kids of the host family during that time. And there is a possibility that the host family will give her some pocket money or even pay her some proper salary. Yes, all this is possible, but it is also possible that food and bed would have been the only pay OR that she was not expected to WORK.

Let’s assume for a moment that the arrangement was that the girl will look after the kids and will get a bit of money for it. Yes, strictly speaking this is work and she needs a work visa. But come-on, are we THAT petty about it now? That girl would not have damaged the Irish economy nor would she have taken another person’s job, not would she have to pay any taxes because over the year the bit of money would have been to low to get her in the claws of the revenue commissioner. So I really think the immigration officers totally overreacted because there is the definite possibility that no employment or formal work was planned.

Sure rules are rules and an immigration officer doesn’t have the power to interpret the rules, he/she just has to apply them. But let’s be honest, they INTERPRET rules every single day and in this case they interpreted the rules unnecessarily strict.

I hope Paloma Aparezida Silva-Carvalho will have a good time in Ireland and I hope she will get a nice bit of pocket money from the family when she leaves and if she looks after the kids. But I think we should apologise to her for a totally unreasonable treatment and the responsible immigration officer should be sent on a humanity training course!

P.S: And here is another story that was reported on the SAME day: A 24 year old guy met an 18 year old Spanish girl in town. They spent some time together, but later he allegedly held her against her will and repeatedly raped her on the former Irish Glass Bottle site near Irishtown over two days. The guy is already on bail for some serious public order crime awaiting a trial, but after he was interviewed by the police, they released him with no criminal charges brought against him, but inquiries will continue.

So a totally harmless and innocent Brazilian girl who wants to visit an upstanding family will be thrown into jail because she MIGHT work here, but a guy that might have raped a girl and who is awaiting trial for a serious public order offence is free to roam the streets. WTF!?!?!?!