A National City family claimed that officers at the San Ysidro port of assaulted and detained them for no reason and gave no explanation when they were released.
David Flores and his wife Celia Ramirez said the incident happened when they were returning from visiting family in Mexico on June 21 at about 10:30pm.
When the couple, their 6-year-old and 11-month-old daughters reached the checkpoint, they handed over their family’s birth certificates and identification cards since they didn’t have passports.
After an exchange of words Flores says he and his wife for forcibly detained without warning.
“My two-door truck was swarmed by 10 agents simultaneously, opening doors and dragging out my wife,” he said.
Flores said he tried to stay in the truck with his children at first, clinging to the steering wheel. He then submitted and claims he was beaten and handcuffed.
“I’m losing hearing in my right ear,” he said, “They busted my eardrum severely. It was just gushing with blood.”
Flores had his family take pictures of him after the incident showing his injuries. The pictures also show bruises on both Ramirez’s arms.
They said they were handcuffed and separated from their children for half an hour, all the while, not knowing why.
“They didn’t ask us any questions. It was us asking questions. Why are we here? Where are our kids?” said Ramirez.
After about an hour-and-a-half, they said they were told they could leave and were given a comment card, which the couple thought was curious. Although frightened, Ramirez asked for the officers’ badge numbers.
“She came back and told me ‘We don’t have badge numbers but we can give some names.’” Ramirez said.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Jacqueline Wasiluk responded to the accusations in statement:
Due to DHS policy, we generally are not able to comment on activities involving specific travelers regardless whether they are U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, visitors or aliens unless there is a public document such as a criminal complaint from which we can draw public information.
CBP strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner, while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States. Travelers who feel they have been treated in an unprofessional manner should contact a supervisor at the port of entry, complete a comment card or write to the CBP port director to discuss their case.
CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly everyday to keep our country safe. We do not tolerate misconduct within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.
Flores and Ramirez said they would like an explanation and an apology. And they don’t want it to happen to anyone else in the future.