By Jamie Ross, Courthouse News Service
TUCSON — Border Patrol agents subjected a teenage U.S. citizen to seven hours of abusive and degrading searches and strip searches for no reason as she tried to walk home from breakfast in Nogales — then they lied about it, her attorney says.
As in many twin cities on the border, walking from Nogales, Ariz. to Nogales, Sonora for a meal is as common as walking to a McDonald’s in a city away from the border. Ashley C., a natural-born U.S. citizen, did so frequently, with her birth certificate and State of Arizona identification card.
But on Oct. 14, 2014, she says, a Border Patrol agent accused her of carrying drugs, without cause. He arrested her, took her to a detention room, handcuffed her to a chair, had her sniffed by dogs, and strip-searched by women agents.
The “extremely petite” 18-year-old was never informed of her legal rights, nor was she allowed to call her mother. Nor did the agents or the dogs find any drugs. But that didn’t stop them from taking her to a hospital, in handcuffs, to be X-rayed and strip-searched more thoroughly, she says in the June 8 complaint in Federal Court.
Defendant Border Patrol Agent Shameka Leggett signed a U.S. Public Health Services Division of Immigration Health Services’ Treatment Authorization Request, according to the complaint. It continues: “Ashley was ‘diagnosed’ as an alleged ‘potential internal carrier of foreign substance’ and the ‘course of treatment’ was identified as ‘request for…