After border patrol agents subjected a New Mexico woman to a series of unwarranted body cavity searches, she received a $475,000 settlement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The incident occurred in 2012. The woman, a 54-year-old U.S. citizen identified only as Jane Doe, was returning to the U.S. on foot at El Paso's Cordova Bridge point of entry when a drug-sniffing dog "alerted" on her. Border agents then subjected Doe to a strip search. After finding no drugs, the agents transferred her to the University Medical Center of El Paso, where she was shackled to an examination table. Hospital staff performed rectal exams, stool samples, vaginal probes, and a CT scan on her without her consent or a warrant.
After six hours, Doe was released and told she would have to sign a medical consent form or be billed $5,488 for the procedures. Doe sued the agency in 2014 for emotional and physical distress, and she reached a settlement in July 2016. Doe received a separate $1.1 million settlement from the hospital in 2014.
"This settlement puts border agents on notice that brutality against border residents will not be tolerated, and stands as a reminder to hospitals of their rights and responsibilities towards the communities they serve," Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said in a press release. "No one should ever again have to endure a protracted and agonizing nightmare like Ms. Doe did."