October 14, 2020

A report from the Border Network for Human Rights included the testimony of “A.P.M.R.,” who said she was invasively strip-searched and harassed by CBP Field Operations personnel at El Paso’s Santa Fe (Paso del Norte Bridge) Port of Entry.

On Oct. 14, between 4 and 5 p.m., I crossed the international port of entry. At the port of entry, the officer asked me the reason for my visit to Juarez, to which I responded that I had gone to see a dentist. He asked me to take off my mask and my glasses, then asked me if I had something to declare. I responded I didn’t. He also asked me when was the last time I had been to Juarez. I told him I did not remember, possibly three months ago.

That bothered the officer. He yelled at me, “How are you not able to remember!” Then the officer asked if I had ever had problems. I assumed the question was if I had ever had any issues with the police in the United States, so I answered I had not.

He then called another officer and claimed I was lying to them. They said that I had an issue with immigration back in 2000. I did have an issue 20 years ago, but I had applied for my legal residency and I was approved. I thought it was a thing of the past.

The officer never specified if I had immigration issues; it was just a misunderstanding on my end. However, they took my fingerprints and my picture.

She called another officer and took me into a room. She yelled at me; told me she was going to check me. I thought she was referring to my purse, but no. She yelled at me to raise my hands against the wall and began to inspect me and touch my private parts. She smacked my left thigh and yelled at me to open my legs further. She asked if there was anything in between, referring to my vagina, and I said no.

I was embarrassed, harassed, and sexually assaulted without a reason, motive, or warning. I did nothing wrong or illegal to deserve this treatment. After the officer searched me, she went through my purse and travel bag and found nothing illegal. She questioned me about some pills that I had, and I told her they were for my migraine.

She was yelling at me the whole time, trying to intimidate me, embarrass me, and harass me. Throughout this whole situation, there was another female officer inside the room just looking at us. In the end, the last officer told me that every time I cross the border, I have to declare that I’ve been deported. I was never told this before; I took it as intimidation.

I was treated like a criminal, like an animal that didn’t deserve respect over a simple misunderstanding. None of the officers were wearing masks. They took my fingerprints, took my picture, told me to take my shoes and mask off, and exposed me to potentially catching Covid-19.

The Border Network for Human Rights stated that it shared this and other testimonies in its February 2022 abuse monitoring report “with the agencies involved.”

The State of Human Rights at the U.S. – Mexico Border: Abuse Documentation 2022 Campaign Report (El Paso, Border Network for Human Rights, February 22, 2022) https://bnhr.org/abuse-documentation-2022-campaign-report/.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Disregard of Public Health, Wrongful Strip Search

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult, U.S. Citizen or Resident