Magic The Gathering artists were detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for 11 hours while traveling to a meeting held by Wizards of the Coast. During this time, a statement from one of the artists claims that they were held for 11 hours in ICE detention center cells, which contained “no beds” despite them being forced to remain in the cells overnight.
MTG artists Anna Steinbauer, Magali Villeneuve, and Titus Lunter — who are citizens of Austria, France, and the Netherlands respectively — tweeted that they had been detained at the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport by immigration officers. Followers were notified of the incident when Villeneuve’s husband posted to her Twitter account, saying that ICE had “took Magali’s phone,” and that the trio were being refused entry into the country.
Lunter explained that he was detained alongside Steinbauer and Villeneuve over “visa issues” related to their Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). According to Lunter, the conditions of their ESTA previously allowed them to travel to the US for business and pleasure. However, due to “some details that live in a gray area,” the trio were detained and informed that they were no longer eligible for the waivers.
This resulted in them being relocated to an “ICE detention center 30 minutes outside of the airport,” at which point they were reportedly checked into their cells. “There were no beds but we were given a blanket and some sanitation utensils,” Lunter tweeted. “We would spend 11 hours here, we were fed and had access to water. To me, the whole experience was very traumatizing.”
With their possessions confiscated, the trio was forced to wait until the morning to be transported back to the airport. At this point, airport staff allowed them to make a phone call in order to let others know of their whereabouts. Lunter concluded that they were then given a police escort to their gate, with their belongings returned to them after their return flights had landed.
Wizards of the Coast released a statement regarding the incident, assuring fans that Steinbauer, Villeneuve, and Lunter would continue to be a part of [Magic The Gathering] and D&D for years to come.”
(1/2) This weekend, artists consulting with Wizards were unable to enter the United States. Wizards staff are in contact with them and they are currently safe and at home.
— Magic: The Gathering (@wizards_magic) August 27, 2018
After arriving in the US, Lunter tweeted to his followers: “Don’t hate. Be nice. Stay kind.” Still tweeting from her account, Villeneuve’s husband wrote: “I was very worried about my wife and not being able to do anything is just horrible. Don’t think we’ll hate your country … And your messages here have only strengthened our love for this country. Because what makes a country is the people who live there. And you’re great!”
Image Credit: Anna Steinbauer / Wizards of the Coast / Magic The Gathering