ACLU of Texas Sues for Excessive Force and False Arrest at Texas-Mexico Border

In a lawsuit filed Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas charges that an agent of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection used unwarranted force and physically abused a U.S. citizen when she questioned his search of her purse.

Laura Mireles, who is disabled, suffered physical injuries after abusive, aggressive, and unjustified treatment by a CBP agent, according to a release issued by the ACLU on Monday. She sustained injuries after allegedly being forcibly thrown to the ground by a CBP agent who responded violently when she asked why he was searching her purse. She was handcuffed so tightly that the fire department later was summoned to cut the cuffs from her wrists, according to the release.

"This type of physical abuse of a law-abiding person by a CBP agent is totally unwarranted and, unfortunately, all too common," Adriana Piñon, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, stated in the release. "Cases like Laura's deteriorate our border communities and erode public trust, making us all less safe."

While going about her work day, Mireles was stopped by a CBP agent, who demanded to search her car. She did not interfere with the search in any way. No illegal tems were found, according to the release. When Mireles inquired about the search of her handbag, the CBP agent allegedly became agitated and responded violently.

Mireles is small in stature, 5'1 and 100 pounds, and has a visible malformation of her hands and feet. The CBP agent, who weighed more than 200 pounds, reportedly threw her to the ground and put his full weight on her small frame. Scared and crying, she asked the agent what was happening. He responded by threatening to hit her if she didn't shut up, according to the release.

Earlier this year, the ACLU of Texas filed a formal administrative complaint with CBP on behalf of Mireles, seeking damages and alleging unlawful CBP conduct for the same incident. This complaint was denied without explanation, paving the way for this lawsuit.

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