A 16-year old San Diego girl was strip-searched by Border Patrol agents after they felt her maxi pad during a pat down.
CREDIT: Scott Catlin with his three daughters. Via GoFundMe
CBS8 San Diego reports that on September 5, the teen and her two older sisters, who are 20 and 18 years old, were crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Tijuana into the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry after visiting their grandmother. When a K-9 unit alerted officers in the general direction where the sisters were standing in line, they were taken to secondary inspection for questioning by U.S. Customs officials. The 16-year-old was separated from her sisters, taken to another room alone by two female Customs agents where her father, Scott Catlin, claims she was touched throughout her body. When agents detected a maxi pad on her, they performed a strip search on the teen to, as Catlin described to CBS8, “make sure the pad they already touched was not contraband or had contraband.”
A lawyer speaking on behalf of Catlin and his family said the U.S. Customs officers made no attempt to contact the parents of the teen before performing the search.
Catlin has opened a GoFundMe page to support legal fees and therapy for his daughter. On the page, he writes:
As many of you know the rights of our 3 daughters were recently violated by Homeland Security. All 3 were traumatized, especially our youngest who was touched inappropriately in her private area (sexually assaulted) then forced to endure a demeaning and illegal strip search without consent and no parental notification. We are seeking all remedies to hold those involved accountable and to prevent other innocent parties from abuse… Together we can hold the Government and it’s agents accountable for their heinous misconduct protecting all of our vulnerable youth as well as those government agents who are honorable, follow the rules, and have basic human decency who are sullied by the misconduct of others.
To watch the CBS8 interview with Scott Catlin, click here.
The weather is growing colder, the days are growing shorter, and flu season has started to rear its ugly head. As usual, the government is encouraging anyone older than six months to get the vaccine, but one population is actually being denied flu shots.
Thousands of people are still detained at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities for undocumented entry, and so far, none of them have had access to the influenza vaccine.
A few months ago, CBP camps were dismally overcrowded—they are still seeing an average of 3,500 people in custody each day, but that number has decreased substantially from a daily average of 20,000 migrants earlier this year (from January through July, over 600,000 migrants were detained after attempting to cross the border). Nevertheless, the conditions of the CBP sites (cramped quarters, limited access to hygienic facilities, etc.) make a perfect breeding ground for viruses, yet CBP officials have claimed that it would be too difficult to implement a vaccine program within their current infrastructure, which includes a staff of more than 250 medical personnel.
“To try and layer a comprehensive vaccinations system on to that would be logistically very challenging for a number of reasons. There’s a system and process for implementing vaccines—for supply chains, for quality control, for documentation, for informed consent, for adverse reactions,” the CBP said in a statement. They also said that this policy has been in place for some time, largely due to the fact that their “typical” processing time of 72 hours doesn’t warrant the need for interventions like vaccination. Of course, most of the people being held at CBP facilities have been there much longer than three days.
On top of not vaccinating the thousands of people in their custody, CBP does not require their staff to get a flu shot—a policy that could not only perpetuate the virus in CBP facilities but could also put their own families at risk.
“CBP officers could be shedding the virus. You are adding a whole other layer to what is basic medical neglect,” said Dr. Bonnie Arzuaga, a pediatrician based in Boston who also founded Doctors for Camp Closure. “In every other institutionalized setting—hospitals, schools, long term healthcare facilities—staff are required to get the flu shot.” The influenza vaccine is essential in institutionalized settings because of its incredibly high contagion rate. According to the CDC, the flu is contagious up to 24 hours before someone develops symptoms and up to a week afterward.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University and a longtime adviser to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that this year, the flu has started early and is already wreaking havoc all over the country. Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta-based pediatrician, noted that many of her patients hadn’t even had a chance to get their flu shots before getting infected. “This year, I had children testing positive for the flu in early October,” said Shu. “We don’t usually see flu that early in the year.” So far, of the main circulating strains is Influenza B, which has a propensity to hit children especially hard.
As many as 61,200 adults and 143 children died from complications of the flu illness in the 2018-2019 flu season. Three of those children died of the flu while in CBP custody.
To combat CBP’s negligence and prevent further deaths of the individuals in their care, Arzuaga’s Doctors for Camp Closure volunteered to provide free vaccinations to people in CBP’s care. The group formed in August of this year and is comprised of around 2,000 physician members, many of whom signed a letter to federal officials offering this vaccination service. The physicians stated that they initially planned to vaccinate 100 migrants, ultimately hoping to vaccinate the majority of the people currently detained.
The doctors with Doctors for Camp Closure confirmed that of 200,000 children in federal custody last year, the three deaths mentioned above, which were attributed to complications from influenza, are nine times higher than the expected child death rate from the flu. “In our professional medical opinion, this alarming mortality rate constitutes an emergency which threatens the safety of human lives, particularly children,” says the Doctors for Camp Closure letter.
The CBP ultimately dismissed this letter and the physicians’ offer to administer free vaccines. Kelly Cahalan, CBP spokesperson, told The Post that her agency has never provided immunizations for detained migrants and has no plans to do so. And a representative told CNN, “We haven’t responded [to the letter], but it’s not likely to happen.”
If you’re Latino, have a Latin-sounding name, are protesting immigrant rights, or speak against immigration officials, or your employer, look out, there could be a target on your back. We mean that metaphorically, sort of, but all of the examples above have proven to be real. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies are keeping tabs on all those individuals, and, if there’s anything suspicious in your record, you could face deportation.
This summer, Raul Rodriguez, a 51-year-old native of Texas, was told that he could no longer work for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He had been with the agency for 18 years, and also is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, but none of that mattered after government workers looked closely into his U.S. birth certificate, the Los Angeles Times reports.
It was last year that Latinos who were renewing their passports were getting denied due to specific details on their birth certificates. This controversy stems back to the Bush Administration based on investigations conducted by the government. The government claims that countless of fraudulent birth certificates were issued between the 1950s through the 1990s by midwives and physicians. These birth certificates in question occurred along the Texas-Mexico border. It is only now, under the Trump Administration that the officials have begun inquiring about this matter once again.
Rodriguez is one of about 246 people that have had their U.S. citizenship overturned or have been deemed to have a suspicious birth certificate. Rodriguez only found out that he wasn’t actually born in the U.S. last year.
Rodriguez has always believed to be a U.S. citizen, but last year he attempted to help his brother apply for a U.S. passport. When Rodriguez provided his birth certificate to authorities, they inquired because the certificate said he was born via a midwife during the dates in question. What authorities suspected of Rodriguez was true. He was actually born in Matamoros, Mexico.
Rodriguez recalled to KRGV News the moment U.S. officials presented him with his original birth certificate. “‘Have you ever seen it?’ I said, no. I’ve never seen it before. I’m almost 50 years old, and I’ve never seen it,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez still couldn’t believe this claim was right, so he approached his dad, who lived in Mexico. His father, Margarito Rodriguez, confirmed that he was, in fact, born in Mexico. Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times that this information was “his worst fear.”
Rodriguez immediately applied to be a U.S. citizen, but his application was denied because he “lied” about being a U.S. citizen and because he voted illegally.
It’s incredible that the U.S. can fault him for an action he never committed. Rodriguez didn’t issue the fraudulent birth certificate, he didn’t know he was born in Mexico, and he certainly didn’t think he was voting illegally because he didn’t realize he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. As KRGV News notes, a 1996 law prohibits a person from getting U.S. citizenship if they have lied about being a U.S. citizen. As of now, his case remains open, and officials are not commenting on the status.
Now, Rodriguez is without a job, health insurance, and is risking losing his retirement benefits.
As of now, the Los Angeles Times reports that they are remaining in their Texas home but are too scared to travel anywhere else because they fear being stopped at checkpoints.
The worse part is that now Rodriguez fears the same people he worked alongside for years.
“Every time I see a cop or a police officer, I kind of stiffen up or get nervous to see Border Patrol. These are people that I worked with, and now I have to fear these people,” he told KRGV News.
While less than 300 people have been flagged for having a questionable birth certificate, it’s too early to say how many of them will be deported.