U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are defending the decision to detain a 9-year-old girl for more than 30 hours as they worked to verify her identification.
Thelma Galaxia said her friend, Michelle Cardenas, was driving each of their two children from Tijuana, where they live, to their schools in San Ysidro Monday morning, as they do nearly every day.
Galexia’s 9-year-old daughter, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina, attends fourth grade at Nicoloff Elementary School and her 14-year-old son, Oscar Amparo Medina, attends ninth grade at San Ysidro High School. Both are passport-holding U.S. citizens.
When they got in line at the border at 4 a.m. Monday, traffic was moving slow. Cardenas told the four children to walk across the border instead. She was going to call them an Uber so they could make it to school on time.
But Oscar and Julia Medina never made it across, according to their mother.
Galaxia says CBP officers accused her daughter of lying about her identity. Officers told the girl she didn’t look like the girl in her passport card picture.
Julia Medina told NBC 7 that CBP officers accused her of being someone else, her cousin Melanie.
CBP said the girl “provided inconsistent information during her inspection,” and officers took her into custody “to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”
What did they think — that she was engaged in human trafficking? a drug smuggler? MS-13? Or did they just get their jollies about harassing a child?