A U.S. citizen describes a violent confrontation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the San Ysidro Port of Entry that he says makes him fearful of returning to Mexico.
Francisco Gonzalez, 35, was born in Tijuana and became an American citizen in 1999.
When he appeared in front of the media Monday, Gonzalez had stitches over his left eye and on his chin. He wore a bandage on his right hand.
“I don’t want this to happen to my son, my brother,” he said with his voice quivering. “I want justice.”
Gonzalez described being confronted by a CBP agent Saturday in front of approximately 200 people in the pedestrian area of the POE.
He claims he was taking the pedestrian crossing into the U.S. just before 9 a.m. when he tried to change pedestrian lanes and was approached by border patrol.
The details about the exchange were somewhat unclear but Gonzalez said he didn’t feel he was doing anything wrong and could choose which lane to use.
He alleges the agent grabbed him by the arm and when he told the agent to let go, he was beaten and knocked unconscious.
“That’s what happens when you don’t listen to a Border Patroler whenever they think, you have to do whatever they said,” he said. “I didn’t do nothing bad, I’m not a criminal.”
He said he remembers being thrown to the ground by somebody and regaining consciousness in the ambulance.
“Because they have a badge, they think they’re smarter than you,” he said of the personnel at the border crossing. “They think they can kick your butt.”
“I don’t think they have the training enough to deal with so much people,” he added.
Members of the community group Alliance San Diego said there was video of the incident but they said there has been no apology from the CBP leadership.
The incident adds to nearly a dozen others that the immigrant rights advocates say should be considered while the debate over immigration reform continues.
They also asked members of the public to share any information, photos or video they may have of the confrontation.
As for Gonzales, he received eight stitches and suffered a broken finger. He was released from the hospital Sunday but said he will not be eager to visit friends and family in Mexico any time soon.
“I’m thinking twice before I go to Tijuana again,” he said. “I’m scared now.”
He said he does not plan to seek legal action against CBP.
The agency released a statement that says, "As U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, it is our pledge to treat all travelers with courtesy, dignity, and respect."
That said, the number of complaints filed represents an extremely small number compared to the overall volume of inspections conducted daily at the San Ysidro POE.