Years later, Tsien would give dramatic accounts of his incarceration. "For fifteen days," he told a reporter, "I was kept under detention. I was forbidden to speak to anybody. At night the prison guards would switch on the lights every fifteen minutes to prevent me from getting any rest. This ordeal caused me to lose thirty pounds during that short period."
It is difficult to say exactly how Tsien fared during his two-week stay at the INS detention facility In all likelihood it was quiet and uneventful. Lee DuBridge remembered decades later that Tsien had a little cubicle that was "perfectly comfortable," with a desk and light. He was, however, cut off from most of his friends and colleagues. Theodore von Kármán tried to communicate with him by phone from Europe but was denied permission. Tsien's family, however, visited him almost daily When they arrived, Tsien could be seen smiling and waving to them from his cell window.
Perhaps Tsien did suffer both physically and mentally during this period. The guards may well have deprived him of his sleep; it was standard routine for them to peer into cells with flashlights to check on detainees at night. One