Here’s Looking Up Your Old Address

Another day, another fruitless anal probe performed on a U.S. citizen by Customs and Border Protection. From the Arizona Capitol Times:

A young U.S. citizen is suing the federal government after she said she was taken in handcuffs by border officers to a Nogales hospital for a body cavity search — which found nothing — and then billed for the procedure.

Ashley Cervantes says in her lawsuit that she had crossed into Mexico on foot on a Saturday morning in October 2014 to have breakfast at a restaurant where she often eats. On returning, she presented border officials with her birth certificate and state identification card.

Attorney Brian Marchetti said they accused the woman, 18 at the time, of possessing drugs. When she denied that was true, they took her into a detention room where, during the next several hours, she was handcuffed to a chair, had several dogs sniff her, and eventually taken into a separate room where she was patted down and asked to squat so female investigators could visually inspect her.

All that, said Marchetti, occurred without her consent or a warrant. In fact, he said, a request to call her mother was denied.

It was what happened next that Marchetti charges clearly violated his client’s rights.

He said an agent of Customs and Border Protection signed a “Treatment Authorization Request” to have her taken to a medical facility as an alleged “potential internal carrier of foreign substance.” That form, he said, requested an X-ray.

Instead, Marchetti said Cervantes was taken in handcuffs to Holy Cross Hospital where the doctor probed her anus and vagina.

Of course no drugs were found or this wouldn’t be a news story.

The story doesn’t say whether the woman is suing the hospital. They’d probably just settle, like the University Medical Center did when they were sued for performing similar services in El Paso, according to this story from the Texas Tribune:

In a statement, hospital president and CEO James Valenti said that University Medical Center staff treats every patient with respect and dignity and that the settlement was more than a simple dismissal of the incident.

“UMC’s settlement of this case was not intended to ‘make it go away.’ It was meant to bring closure for the plaintiff and to the issues that she alleged and to ensure our stakeholders that we have taken steps to tighten our policies and reinforce them with staff,” he said. “We also intend to make sure that area law enforcement agencies understand that UMC’s only concern when patients are brought to us in their custody is patient care. We do not see those patients as prisoners. We are here solely to tend to their needs and to do our best to ensure that they have a good outcome.”

The statement adds that the hospital agreed to a settlement of $125,000. Its insurance carrier, the National Union Fire Insurance Company will pay $475,000, and Texas Tech University will provide $500,000 of the settlement. (UMC is a teaching center for the university’s El Paso operations.)

Welcome to Amerika. Here’s how we use your tax dollars.

2 comments

  1. The settlement was in fact for $1.1 million, all courtesy of the El Paso taxpayers. Whatever else, I will do everything possible to avoid going to the emergency services of UMC, given that the doctors there could not figure out on their own that an anal and vaginal search for hours just on the say-so of the CBP was not medical treatment. Not to mention the hospital trying to force the “patient” to sign a consent form, and when she refused sending her the bill in retaliation.

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