(ABC NEWS)- A Chinese man with stage 4 cancer and his wife were detained on Monday after the Carnival cruise they were on docked at a port in Florida, according to the couple’s family.
Yuanjun Cui and Huan Wang came to the U.S. in December on a multiple entry travel visa valid for 10 years, their son-in-law, Joseph McDevitt, told ABC News.
After Cui had his stomach removed and endured up to eight rounds of chemotherapy, McDevitt and his wife had invited her parents to come stay with them in the U.S. so the dying grandfather could get to know his grandchildren during his final months, McDevitt said.
The family, who are from the Ozarks region of Missouri, had an “awesome” time on their cruise aboard the Carnival Elation, which departed Jacksonville, Florida, on Thursday and returned on Monday after traveling to the Bahamas, McDevitt said.
But, in hindsight, McDevitt realized there were some red flags, he said.
When they first got on the boat, there was an “issue” with the family’s paperwork, but they were finally allowed to board after about an hour, with the attendant ensuring them that “if there were any problems, they would fix them en route,” McDevitt said.
Then, during the trip, McDevitt was called up to the front desks a total of four times to show cruise personnel their paperwork, he said, adding that Carnival employees “knew something” was wrong.
“They should have never let us on the boat,” McDevitt said. “I would have rather lost my money on a cruise than my family.”
Once the cruise docked in Jacksonville on Monday, the family was the first off the boat after they were deemed “persons of interest,” McDevitt said.
They brought the family to the front, fingerprinted his wife’s parents, separated the family, and threatened to arrest them, he said.
McDevitt’s children, ages 3 and 4, remained with his wife, while he and his wife’s parents were placed in separate rooms. McDevitt then requested to be released because he “was being detained for no reason,” and called an attorney once he got out.
“Eventually, my wife was released, and my kids, and we never saw her parents again,” he said.