I am appalled that agents of the U.S. Border Patrol have so little knowledge and interest in the well being of Nogales senior citizens.
Last week I was honored to accompany former governor and ambassador to Bolivia, El Salvador and Argentina under two U.S. presidents, Raul Castro, to his 96th birthday celebration in Tucson. Gov. Castro and his wife Patricia could live anywhere in the world and they decided to live in Nogales, and the community is flattered. When we went through the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on I-19 north of Tubac, we were detained after an agent said we had appeared as a nuclear threat. The agent asked if anyone had had a medical treatment lately and Gov. Castro said he had one the previous day. She said the solution he was given might have triggered their alarm system.
We were sent to secondary inspection and were asked to step out of the car. When they asked the governor to stand under the tent, I asked if he could remain seated in the air-conditioned car because it might be too hot for him. The agents said he could not and that they had a fan under the tent.
I explained to the agent he had undergone a medical treatment the previous day and it must be the solution that set off their system. They said he had to stay under the tent, in 100-degree hear, while dressed in a suit. They offered him a chair. I felt totally frustrated and I was worried about the governor.
I explained that he was a former governor and ambassador a true statesman and that he was 96 years old and that he shouldn’t have to be going through this. They knew it was the medical procedure that was coming us on their radar.
At that point I was begging them to leave him alone. They brought out a document for him to fill out and sign. They had a machine they ran up and down his body front and back. Finally they released us and as we were walking back to the car they stopped him and said they had to see his identification. We were standing out in the sun, by this time, and Gov. Castro reached for his identification and showed it to the agent, they registered the information they needed from his identification and they released us, again.
I was helpless and overwhelmed by the incident. I felt the agents had no regard for the governor’s background or age or physical condition. I was embarrassed as I watched the governor being needlessly treated like a nuclear threat, especially because they knew he had just had a treatment at Tucson Heart Hospital the day before. I felt he was being disrespected as a senior citizen, much less the amazing statesman that he is.
After all of this chaos in the Arizona heat I thought it was interesting that the agents never asked me for my identification, and I was driving the car. Maybe I was the nuclear threat.
I understand Border Patrol has a job to do, but this was absolutely ridiculous. I feel less safe knowing that time and money is being wasted by agents who must check a box or file a paper knowing full well that there is no threat. It is the equivalent of TSA detaining a toddler simply because of random searches.
This is the anger that exists with that checkpoint. We residents understand why it is there, but are reminded every day at how wasteful and ineffective it is. I am sorry, but in America, Americans should be able to drive from one city to the next without being detained and questioned by other Americans simply to file paperwork.
(Doan is a resident of Nogales.)