Two Guatemalan sisters entered the United States after successfully crossing the troubled Mexican border but they got lost in the Texas desert.
They then spotted two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and asked for their help.
The two sisters, ages 17 and 19 in July 2016 at the time of the alleged incident, were taken to a field office in Presidio, Texas, where they claim one of the officers sexually assaulted them one by one.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed legal claims against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of the sisters, who now live in Fresno with their mother.
“We had fled Guatemala for fear, and then this happened to us,” lamented the older sister.
“The purpose and reason why we’re sharing our story today is to prevent this from happening to any women and to ask the agents to have sympathy.”
The U.S. border agent allegedly striped and assaulted both the sisters in the name of duty.
“He took me to the pantry and told me he had to search me for his own safety,” the older sister explained. “I took off my sweater, then my shirt. I kept asking him why. Then I took off my tank top. He asked me to take off my bra, but I didn’t want to, so I loosened it so he could see inside.”
The officer then lifted her bra and began touching her breasts, she said. He told her to take off her underwear.
“I asked why, and he said, ‘For security,’” she said.
The officer then started touching her genitals. After the older sister went through this ordeal, the officer returned her to the cell and turned toward the younger sister.
“He told my sister: 'Now it’s your turn.' She came back crying. I asked her what happened. She said she didn’t know if what the agent did was just him doing his job.”
Both the sisters have asked for anonymity out of fear.
“CBP must be held accountable for its officer’s sexual abuse of these vulnerable victims,” ACLU of Northern California staff attorney Angelica Salceda said. “There has been no criminal prosecution against the officer involved. CBP is not above the law, and its abuses of power must not be tolerated.”
This incident comes just weeks after President Donald Trump pledged to add 5,000 more Border Patrol agents to CBP’s ranks to protect his anti-immigration policies.
According to ACLU, apparently no disciplinary actions have been taken against the accused officer.
“We thought we had left a world of violence and oppression, only to realize immigration enforcement officers in the United States appeared to be no different than law enforcement in our home country, abusing the tremendous power and responsibility that comes with their job,” wrote the elder sister in a blog post for the ACLU.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Ueslei Marcelino