U.S. Woman Got 'Invasive Cavity Searches' Coming Back to the U.S., ACLU Says
The real El Paso bridge experience now comes with probing.
If there's anything worse than rolling up to the U.S.-Texas border and getting flagged by agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, it's getting flagged, searched and probed by those agents.
On December 8, 2012, agents frisked and strip-searched a U.S. citizen as she was trying to return to the U.S. via the El Paso bridge, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU of New Mexico.
The agents transported the New Mexico resident to the University Medical Center of El Paso, where doctors conducted an X-ray, a speculum exam, a rectal exam, a vaginal exam and a CT scan. They also observed a bowel movement, which is probably even more awkward than it sounds. This all happened over the course of six hours and without a warrant, according to the lawsuit.
"Securing the border has become an excuse for outright abandonment of Constitutional principles that protect our privacy and dignity," Adriana Piñon, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, stated in a release. "The hand of the government should never have unfettered power to invade our most intimate bodily spaces."
The 54-year-old woman at the center of all this is, understandably, traumatized about all this, according to ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives. "The fact that our government treated an innocent 54-year-old woman with such brutality and inhumanity should outrage all Americans," Ives said.
We contacted the media arm for U.S. Customs & Border Protection, but Public Affairs Specialist Roger Maier said the agency does not comment on pending litigation, noting that it works with any criminal or administrative investigations of corruption or misconduct. However, as Monty Python once observed, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, but when crossing into the U.S. you might want to be on guard for cavity searches.