ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the summer of 2011, Australia's Grace Hollingsworth arrived in the United States to go to school at Northland Community Technical College in East Grand Forks, North Dakota.
"And I failed my math part," explained Hollingsworth.
As it turned out, that would be just the beginning of an experience that would land her in so much legal trouble she would be in and out of courtrooms and spend an entire month in jail.
"You would be chained and handcuffed," said Hollingsworth. "And they put you in the back of a van and it would be another hour to court."
Hollingsworth was in the U.S. thanks to a student visa which required that she attend classes.
When she failed that math test, she said for some reason the school put her in a class with adults. That particular class did not qualify under the student visa standards, something she would find out was a visa violation.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement went to her Grand Forks home and she was put under arrest.
"We're I-C-E and we've been informed that you've not been attending school," she said.
She said while she was in jail she didn't have a clue what was going on. She spent a week in Grand Forks and was then moved to ICE's facility in Elk River, no family, no money, no attorney and no clue about what was going on.
"I think it's more of a shock," said William Mitchell graduate Halyna Eremeyva. "Just really not understanding why, and not understanding the process."
A William Mitchell student at the time, Eremeyva picked up Grace's case.
The first thing they did was establish a bail; for whatever reason one had not been set.
They got a hold of Grace's family, bailed her out, and she hasn't been "back-in" since.
"If I hadn't met you that day," Hollingsworth smiled as she told her story to current William Mitchell Law students. "Yeah, I felt very emotional, I just wanted to go home right there and then."
Grace is back at NCTC. She studies architecture and has another year's worth of classes.
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