More than 14 million pedestrians enter the United States every year through the San Ysidro Port of Entry between Tijuana and San Diego but few know what to do if they feel they have been victims of any abuse by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Zulema Zaragoza crosses the border every day with her visa to take her citizen son to school. She told Telemundo 20 that she has been threatened by agents at the border crossing.
"Many people think that is normal because they have all the authority to treat us like that, and people do not know we have rights," Zaragoza said.
In the past year alone, the Committee of American Friends has documented more than 100 complaints of abuse ranging from physical, psychological and verbal.
Pedro Rios, Director of the American Friends Committee, was outside the pedestrian crossing Tuesday handing out brochures as part of a "Know Your Rights" campaign.
“There is a fear factor and people don’t want to file complaints because of that,” Rios said. “That’s why it’s important for us to be out here.”
Ricardo García was one of the pedestrians crossing into the U.S. Tuesday. He said he had a threatening experience when he was once stopped by a federal official for speeding while in the U.S.
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"He did not ask for my documents, he did not argue anything, he simply stopped and said 'You know who I am?' And I told him it was a Border Patrol and he said 'Well I'm going to deport you', and I said 'No, it's that you can not do that kind of thing," García told Telemundo 20.
Rios said his organization will help those who feel they've been mistreated.
Complaints are filed with three agencies including the CBP and two are research agencies connected with the ACLU and the Inspector General, he said.
If you wish to file a complaint, you can do so through the email email@example.com.
Any suspicious activity regarding the U.S. border or the CBP checkpoints can also be reported to the San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.
Federal regulations allow CBP to operate within 100 miles of any U.S. external boundary.
Many communities within San Diego County fall in the so-called 100-mile “Border Zone” of the United States.