Society

Border Patrol Subjects Woman to 6-Hour Unwarranted Cavity Search

| by Allison Geller

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the federal government on behalf of a United States citizen who endured an invasive cavity search after being picked up by immigration authorities in El Paso.

“Jane Doe,” a resident of New Mexico, was stopped while entering the United States from El Paso in December of last year. After being searched at a border checkpoint by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, the 54-year-old woman was taken to the University Medical Center for a six-hour intensive strip and cavity search because a drug dog allegedly jumped on her.

"She was not carrying drugs, she was not doing anything wrong," Laura Schauer Ives, the legal director of the ACLU of New Mexico, told KRQE. "She was totally innocent, and all of these incredibly horrible invasive things happened to her."

The ACLU complaint, filed in a U.S. district court on Wednesday, gives a graphic account of the unwarranted search.

“First, government agents strip searched Ms. Doe and made a visual and manual inspection of her genitals and anus. Finding nothing, Defendants next subjected her to an observed bowel movement.”

“When that procedure yielded no evidence of drugs, Defendants X-rayed Ms. Doe. Having found nothing, Defendants next shackled Ms. Doe to an examining table and inserted a speculum into her vagina, performed a rectal exam on her, and conducted a bimanual cavity search of her vagina. Still not satisfied, Defendants subjected Ms. Doe to a CT scan and again found no evidence of drugs.”

Adding insult to injury, “Doe” was charged $5,000 by the hospital for refusing to sign a consent-to-search form.

“These extreme and illegal searches deeply traumatized our client,” Ives said in an ACLU statement.

“The fact that our government treated an innocent 54-year-old woman with such brutality and inhumanity should outrage all Americans. We must ensure that government agents never put another person through a nightmare like this ever again.”

Sources: Texas Tribune, KRQE, ACLU