“One teenager arrived with her sister after Border Patrol denied them a credible fear screening. She
explained to border officials that she was fleeing the man who raped her, beat her sister, and was pursuing
her as she left. On one occasion, a US official reached into her blouse and bra, despite her protests, to take
documents relating to her sexual abuse and laughed at her while reading her papers.”
Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 8 Update From KBI”, July 2021.
On August 2, 2021, the Boston College Civil Rights Clinic and Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on behalf of Neisa Ortega and her 14-year-old daughter. On multiple occasions over the course of a year, Ms. Ortega and her daughter were separated for hours without explanation and Ms. Ortega subjected to repeated invasive body searches and sexual violations at the hands of CBP officers while travelling through Logan Airport in Boston.
The complaint alleges that CBP subjected Ms. Ortega to illegal and unconstitutional treatment upon her returns from family visits to the Dominican Republic. Beginning in April 2019, CBP officers assaulted, degraded, and humiliated Ms. Ortega on three separate occasions through invasive body cavity searches that contravened CBP’s internal guidelines prohibiting officers from conducting vaginal cavity searches. During these body cavity searches, CBP officers separated Ms. Ortega from her daughter for hours, during which time neither was given information as to the other’s whereabouts. Ms. Ortega and her daughter have been traumatized by their separation from each other, and Ms. Ortega still lives with the trauma of being physically abused and sexually violated.
On November 5, 2020, Ms. Ortega filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL); CRCL summarily closed the complaint on March 30, 2021. On January 19, 2021, Ms. Ortega filed an administrative claim with CBP on behalf of herself and her daughter under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA); CBP likewise denied the claim in full on June 17, 2021. Having exhausted administrative remedies under the FTCA, Ms. Ortega filed this lawsuit claiming Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory relief pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and the FTCA.
Source: Hold CBP Accountable, “Ortega, et al. v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection”, August 2021. <https://holdcbpaccountable.org/2021/08/27/ortega-et-al-v-u-s-customs-and-border-protection/>
Janine Bouey, a 60-year-old U.S. Army veteran and former Los Angeles Police Department officer, reports being repeatedly shackled, sexually assaulted (at one point with a canine), sworn at, and forced to disrobe without privacy by CBP agents who pulled her out of line while she was crossing into San Diego from Tijuana. Ms. Bouey, who is Black, was released without any allegation of wrongdoing. When she complained to a younger Black CBP officer, he replied, “These things happen.” Ms. Bouey alleges that CBP officers committed “sexual assault, assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, Bane Act violations, Ralph Act violations, equal protection violations, and California Civil Code section 49 violations.”
Source: Law Offices of Joseph M. McMullen, “Federal Tort Claims Act Administative Claim, Claimants: Janine A. Bouey (DOB: 8/18/1959)” (San Diego: June 9, 2021) <https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/alliancesandiego/pages/3234/attachments/original/1623816903/FTCA_Claim.pdf?1623816903>.