FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2008
LAREDO, Texas – Several members of a Laredo family have filed a lawsuit against the federal government and a Border Patrol agent for numerous civil rights abuses and injuries suffered during an illegal search and seizure.
Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the family alleges that they were stopped by a Border Patrol agent based on an anonymous tip that they were carrying undocumented immigrants in the trunk of their car. After being threatened with arrest, the family allowed the agent to search their vehicle and proceeded to return home. Although no contraband was found, the agent followed the family to their home and placed several family members under arrest while claiming that they were not obeying his orders.
“This suit is a border citizens’ manifesto declaring ‘zero tolerance’ against Border Patrol civil rights abuses,” said TRLA attorney Israel M. Reyna, who is representing the family. “This suit should serve as notice to our federal government that border patrol agents cannot violate constitutional rights. Border residents have the same rights as people across the United States.”
The lawsuit argues that the incident violated the family’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The family is also making claims of assault, battery, and false imprisonment against the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
TRLA attorney Celestino Gallegos added, “Citizens should be able to demand that the government respect their constitutional rights without fear that they will suffer repercussions for doing so. What happened to this family is unacceptable.”
Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.