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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Dad Says Border Patrol Is Out of Control

TUCSON (CN) - A U.S. citizen says that for 7 years the U.S. Border Patrol has treated him like "a terrorist or narcotics trafficker" every time he returns from visiting his family in Mexico - surrounding him at gunpoint and forcing him to submit to hourlong searches and questioning, often handcuffed and shoeless, in the presence of his children. Miguel Lopez Cruz has had to stop seeing his family because he is afraid a Border Patrol agent will shoot him, his attorney said.

"He is afraid to go back until he gets this resolved," Lopez's attorney Jesus Romo Vejar said in an interview.

"Generally he goes once or twice a month, and each time it was happening, including around his children. He is afraid he is going to get shot."

In his federal complaint, Lopez says that each time he returned to the United States at Nogales or Naco, Ariz., when he gave an agent his passport, "his car was immediately surrounded by port of entry authorities, he was forcefully taken from his automobile, threatened, handcuffed, manhandled and taken to an office where his shoes and belt [were] taken from him."

Lopez says he was often "threatened with weapons" and "feared he would be killed by an outraged and out of control" agent.

Romo said that Border Patrol supervisors have apologized to Cruz several times and told him he had been "confused with someone else," but every time he is arrested again, agents "don't give him an opportunity to talk."

"He has no idea why this happening," Romo said.

"There is some hubris on the part of the Border Patrol. We want them to take stock of what they are doing and have more respect for the dignity of the people that cross. What list is he on that this keeps happening, and who knows who else this is happening to?"

Romo said Lopez has never been arrested for a crime.

Lopez adds in his complaint that he has not returned to Mexico to visit his family in Sonora since agents surrounded and searched him again in June.

He seeks damages of not less than $200,000 and an end to the stops.

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