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Scott Catlin’s 16-year-old daughter was allegedly strip-searched while crossing the border from Mexico into the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The teen and her two older sisters—ages 18 and 20—were returning to their home in San Diego after visiting their family and meeting their uncle’s newborn baby in Tijuana, Mexico last month. As they were crossing the border after being dropped off by their grandmother on the entry line, officers took two of the girls in for secondary inspections.
While the oldest sister was asked to wait outside, the other two were taken in and interrogated. The youngest was asked to remove her clothing and was searched for contraband, which also involved shining a flashlight in her vaginal and anal area. Her father claims that he was never called for parental consent to search the minor, which is required by law.
Catlin alleges that the CBP inspector accused his daughter, who was menstruating, of sneaking in contraband via her maxi pad and they proceeded to touch that area. He also alleges that she was told to bend over and cough several times with no social workers or medical staff present.
Two days after hearing his daughter’s harrowing experience, Catlin filed a formal complaint. “This letter serves as my formal complaint for the isolation, sexual assault and battery, strip search and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress perpetrated by agents of Homeland Security upon my minor child…,” he wrote.
A representative from Customs and Border Protection told People Chica that they don’t take employee misconduct lightly: “Due to privacy laws, CBP is unable to speak about specific cases,” the representative wrote in a statement, “but in general terms, if during the course of our inspection there are enforcement concerns, CBP officers follow standard protocols to resolve the issue at hand and complete our national security mission. Under a uniform system, allegations of misconduct are documented and referred to the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) for independent review and assessment.”
In an interview with People Chica, Catlin said: “I nicknamed her sunshine when she was little because she’s always happy. She’s been moody. They stole her light. She’s not the same person anymore.”
Catlin has started a fundraising page on GoFundMe to pay for potential legal fees and his daughter’s therapy. “My main concern is making sure my daughter is okay; that she gets back to normal.”