The Reno- Tahoe International Airport Authority has filed a formal complaint against the United States Customs and Border Protection office in Reno. The airport launched a formal investigation following the alleged mistreatment of a 15-year-old Mexican girl.
“Clearly the treatment of this young woman was unacceptable,” said Andy Wirth Chairman of Airport Board of Trustees. “It was offensive on many levels and it is completely unacceptable.”
According to the formal complaint, the girl was traveling alone to Reno on November 27, 2015 to visit her sister. She was traveling on Volaris Airlines direct flight between Reno and Guadalajara, Mexico.
When she presented her travel documentation, CBP officials learned that she had not returned to Mexico 11 days after her Visa expired. Because of that reason, she was taken to secondary screening where she waited for upwards of 5 hours, the airport complaint alleges. The 15-year-old, who speaks little English, was detained with an adult detainee, which violates CBP rules.
The girl was also threatened with deportation. After being held for nearly 5 hours, the girl was ultimately released to her family, and was told she was a “Christmas present."
The complaint was filed on December 18, 2015. Monday, the Reno Tahoe International held a press conference to discuss the issue.
“There is a mistreatment taking place,” said Councilman Oscar Delgado. “There is an aggressive tone taking by CBP with respects to citizens and guests coming to the city of Reno. ”
By filing a complaint, the Airport Board of Trustees wants change with how United States citizens and non citizens are treated at the Reno CBP site.
“Simply put, when people fly into the Reno Tahoe International Airport, and are dealt with CBP officials, they are dealt with respect and decency,” said Wirth. “That is the desired outcome. It is a fairly simple objective.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent us this statement:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently investigating the public allegations of unprofessional conduct made by the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA). Upon CBP’s initial review of the case, it has become evident some of the statements made by RTAA in their news release and news conference are incorrect.
All international travelers arriving at Reno Tahoe Airport have snacks and water available in the primary and secondary areas. The items are provided by RTAA as a convenience to the traveling public. Restrooms and water fountains are also available in both primary and secondary areas. CBP does not withhold access to food, water, or restrooms for any traveler regardless of their status.
Any traveler passing through a CBP facility always has an opportunity to file a complaint, either on-site directly with a CBP Supervisor, or online at CBP.gov. To date, CBP has not received any complaint from the passenger, her family or members of the community.
Allegations of misconduct are taken very seriously, and are promptly investigated by CBP. Despite engaging the passenger and family as early as December 7, 2015, RTAA did not forward a complaint to CBP until December 18, 2015 – one business day prior to the news conference. CBP was not provided an opportunity to respond prior to the news event.
Furthermore, RTAA publicly released what should have been considered private documents, including a handwritten personal statement allegedly belonging to a minor. It should be noted that despite the fact that these statements were released, there is nothing in the standard questions and answers that demonstrates inappropriate behavior by CBP Officers. It is standard CBP process to question and document the interview with those travelers to determine their admissibility to the United States. We appreciate that RTAA acknowledged CBP ultimately exercised discretion in allowing the passenger entry to the United States.
CBP Officers working in Reno have pledged to treat all travelers with dignity and respect. CBP Officers have an important role in protecting this country and we acknowledge that sometimes our mission requires a little extra time to make the right decisions. Not only do we protect the people of Reno, but we also live, work, volunteer, worship and participate as proud members of the community.