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ACLU Sues Feds Over Cavity Searches at US-Mexico Border

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU of New Mexico are suing the United States Customs and Border Protection over cavity searches to a U.S. citizen. The ACLU claims the searches were without a warrant and violated the Constitution.

Aired 12/20/13 on KPBS News.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU of New Mexico are suing the United States Customs and Border Protection over cavity searches to a U.S. citizen.

According to the lawsuit, the 54-year-old woman was crossing the border from Juarez to El Paso when she was stopped, frisked and strip-searched by the U.S. Customs agents.

They then took her to a hospital in El Paso where — against her will — she was observed by doctors having a bowel movement, given an X-ray, a manual exam of her rectum and vagina, and then a CT scan.

The agents were looking for illegal drugs but found nothing.

“In the lawsuit, we are bringing it to challenge those searches," said Adriana Piñon, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas. "Securing the border has become an excuse for outright abandonment of Constitutional principles that protect our privacy and our dignity. And enough is enough.”

Piñon said it is unknown what policies are in place at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that govern these invasive cavity searches.

The lawsuit seeks to have a judge declare unconstitutional that policy and prevent future unwarranted body cavity searches by border officials.

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