A 16-year-old girl identified in court filings as C.R. was traveling with her adult sisters on a family trip to Mexico last fall when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents stopped her at the San Ysidro pedestrian port in Southern California. A drug-sniffing dog had alerted to C.R., and the agents demanded she undress, relinquishing even her sanitary pad, and squat "while officers probed and shined a flashlight at her vaginal and anal areas." No drugs were ever found.
C.R.'s family is suing, and they are not the only ones. As The Washington Post reported Sunday, the last seven years have seen at least 11 similarly disturbing lawsuits accusing CBP of grossly invasive searches of women and underage girls at U.S. ports of entry.
In one case from 2016, a woman named Tameika Lovell was selected for a random search at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Though she was allowed to remain clothed, Lovell's suit says an agent "placed her right hand into [Lovell's] pants 'forcibly' inserting four gloved fingers into plaintiff's vagina" and then separated her buttocks "for viewing." Again, no drugs.
In another case from 2012, an unidentified woman was detained on suspicion of drug smuggling at the Philadelphia airport. She was held for seven hours, shackled, forcibly taken to a hospital, and told she'd be detained "until she had urinated and defecated into a plastic container in the presence of an officer." Then, her lawsuit said, she was "tied to a bed with restraints, stripped naked by medical staff, and had a tampon removed from her vagina during a body search." She was also given intravenous sedation, catheterized, and subject to multiple scans. No illegal drugs were found. CBP and the hospital settled the case.