The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was preparing to sue the U.S. Customs and Border Protection over what has described as a pattern of agents sexually assaulting women who have crossed the border into the U.S. The lawsuit was expected to be filed March 22, the ACLU of Northern California announced Wednesday.
In the announcement, the ACLU referenced a Customs and Border Protection agent who was accused of sexually assaulting two females, including one minor, while they were being detained following a successful crossing of the border. It was not clear if the women were detained lawfully or under false pretenses. While the agent's name was not disclosed, one of the victims — identified only as Clarita — would be speaking with reporters following the filing of the lawsuit.
The ACLU's plans for a lawsuit came after years of claims from women — often times undocumented immigrants — who said they were sexual assault victims of Border Patrol agents. In many cases, the alleged victims said they experienced a sense of helplessness because they were being attacked by law enforcement, PBS reported in 2014.
In another case, a Border Patrol agent befriended a family before sexually preying upon their teenage daughter, Fox 5 in San Diego reported. That former agent, Daniel Alfredo Spear
, was convicted of charges ranging from oral copulation of a minor to using a minor in the production of child pornography. Spears was sentenced to two years in state prison in January.
The same thing has apparently been happening elsewhere along the border. Another now-former Border Patrol agent in New Mexico was arrested for his inappropriate relationship with a teenager, KVIA, the Las Cruces ABC affiliate, reported in September. Orlando Gomez had a sexual relationship with a girl starting when she was 15 in 2014 until February of 2016.
Wednesday's announcement was not the first of its kind by the ACLU. The civil liberties group filed a formal complaint in New Mexico in May over two Mexican nationals with valid documentation and a U.S. citizen alleging illegal harassment and detention by Border Patrol agents in 2014 and 2015
The ACLU also accused Border Patrol of profiling and abuse in 2015, the New York Times reported at the time.