Saturday, 01. November 2014
04. 08. 14. - 16:00
An American man who fell in love with Romania and has become an unofficial ambassador for the country writing books praising its virtues, travel blogs, and appearing on TV to talk about how great the country is, has been deported.
Sam Reames who was known in local media as "Sam Cel Roman" meaning Sam the Romanian, became so passionate about the country, that he used to tell other Romanians "I am more Romanian then you are".
But the Romanian immigration service says that by forgetting to extend his stay, which would probably have been automatically approved, he has now automatically qualified for the ban.
And that meant he was dragged away from his home by armed Romanian police officers and was not even given time to arrange for anybody to care for his pet cats because he had fallen foul of local red tape. As well as his cats, he left behind other property and belongings that he had gathered since he moved to the Transylvanian city of Cluj 10 years ago.
The 41-year-old from Orlando in Florida said: "I couldn't believe it when they turned up at my door and told me I was being deported."
After a trial in which he was given a translator that did not speak English, he was back in the car where he was escorted by armed officers to the border where he was dumped in Hungary, and banned from coming back before 2017.
Yet right up to the time he was deported the American had been telling the rest of the world why they should come to Romania which he said: "Has everything, sea, mountains, beautiful cities, fresh air, clean water, healthy food and beautiful women."
His books about the country, which include tourism guides, have become best sellers for visitors to Romania and he said he was stunned that because of a bureaucratic mix-up he had been thrown out and banned from coming back for 2-and-a-half years.
He said: "I came into the country on a tourism visa and then became part of a local company that gave me a permanent visa but my trouble started when that got stolen. I guess what happened after that was lost in translation and now I suddenly find myself evicted."
Marius Ludusan, Chief Commissioner who heads the Immigration Service in Cluj, said: "He legally entered the country 6-7 years ago and forgot to leave. In order to stay in the country for so long, he should have contacted any local office and requested the extension of his stay."
He said: "At first I thought the two people at the door were Jehovah Witnesses due to the way they were standing in front of my door with paperwork in their hand. But when they identified themselves as immigration officers and said they were there for me, I thought it was a joke. It was only when they started to cart me off that I realised they were serious.
"I was told it was a minor matter but as soon as they got me in the car and took me to the police station, I was banged up in a tiny cell where I was surrounded by immigration officers including one guy that was shouting at me and demanding to know why was breaking the law. To be honest they treated me like a child molester, not just somebody who'd forgot to extend his visa. I was kept there for five hours and they wouldn't even let me go to the bathroom."
After a court hearing in which his translator turned out not to be able to speak English, the Romanians had tried to deport him to America, but discovered there were no direct flights, and so had dumped him over the border instead.
Despite criticism of his decision to deport the American, Ludusan said: "Anyone that comes here needs to obey the law. Those that don't obey the law have to face the consequences."
Sam who has lost everything left behind in Romania is currently staying with friends in southern Germany after making his way there from the Hungarian Romanian border. He said: "It is bizarre that I can go anywhere in Europe apart from the one place which I really felt was my home."
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