Many things were going through my mind that day of my detention by United States Customs and Border Protection agents. I am 80 years old and an American citizen. I consider myself an environmentalist and care deeply about poor air quality as someone with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). I live in Mexicali across the border from Calexico by choice because it’s more affordable.

I have often wondered what causes such long lines and delays to cross the border in my car. Some days it can take up to six hours. On public holidays such as Easter Sunday, it may take even longer. It’s dangerous for someone like me sitting in the car breathing in toxic fumes for so long.

Ray Askins won a lawsuit against Homeland Security.

(Ray Askin)

Customs and Border Protection Declaration

Customs and Border Protection has made the signage changes agreed to as part of the settlement by February 2021. CBP has also informed its employees of the terms of the settlement, including that, except as otherwise provided in the settlement, they may not not interfere with visual or audio recording in publicly accessible outdoor areas in our land ports. It should be noted that the settlement did not impact the agency’s ability to restrict check-in to “restricted areas” of our land port, including indoor facilities and outdoor areas. routinely used by CBP employees to process or inspect persons or vehicles crossing any international border, including any outdoor areas to which members of the public generally do not have access unless crossing the United States border. United.

– JACQUELINE E. WASILUK/ Spokesperson

So, on April 19, 2012, I decided to take some photos once I crossed the border into the town of Calexico. I stood at the port of entry facing the lines of cars waiting to enter the country. That was my goal for the photos. There was no other motive.

My observations revealed the fact that secondary inspection is underutilized, and that is why the queues are so long. Instead of sending border workers to a secondary inspection, the initial agents take too long to complete their tasks. This saves rows unnecessarily.

I managed to take about four photos when I was approached by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. I was handcuffed and dragged to a small room inside the port of entry and searched by three male officers. It was a very uncomfortable search. They touched my genitals and my buttocks. They rubbed and squeezed me like no stranger should touch another. I wasn’t beaten in any way — that’s not what I’m saying. But I was subjected to their embarrassing search and interrogation for about 40 minutes.

In the end, they deleted all but one of my photos from my camera without explanation. I was angry and humiliated.

I contacted the ACLU. He agreed to file a complaint and we won. This lawsuit was never about money. It was about protecting the rights of ordinary people. I want the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end the abuse of its own citizens.

As part of the deal, DHS was ordered to change signs at all entry points to let people know they can record videos and photos with their phones. I don’t believe the department has done that. I don’t think the average American citizen knows their registration rights when they cross the border into their own country.

Yes, we won the case, but my feelings are mixed. I spent nearly 10 years fighting this lawsuit. I don’t feel like a meaningful deal was made. The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been violated. Federal judges for the 9e The United States Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. But in my opinion, CBP did not take this agreement seriously, changing the verbiage of some signs and leaving other signs unchanged.

Homeland security is not above the law. He can’t keep playing on travelers’ ignorance and keep embarrassing people and causing ridiculous emotional stress on the public.

Askins is an environmental activist. The retiree lives in Mexicali.

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