Photo: Paragon Systems Inc.
Private security personnel hired to guard the San Ysidro Port of Entry on the U.S.-Mexico border have been slammed for their abuse of authority, activists in San Diego say.
Christian Ramirez, human rights director for Alliance San Diego, told Efe that he recently suffered mistreatment at the hands of a supervisor of Paragon Systems Inc. Paragon was purchased from Tri-S Security Corp., by Pinkerton (a Securitas subsidiary) in 2010. Paragon was contracted by the General Services Administration to provide armed guards for federal buildings in Los Angeles and San Diego, including the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
“The incident occurred last Tuesday when I was returning through the pedestrian gate with a friend. After I was inspected, and since my friend was being detained for a few minutes more, I waited for him at the inspection-area exit when an agent, talking to me in a high-handed way, got aggressive and arrogantly grabbed me and refused to identify himself, even though I was on a public highway,” Ramirez said.
Adriana Jasso, of the American Friends Service Committee, told Efe that her organization has documented complaints of users of the point of entry who have gone through similar situations - complaints they were too afraid to make to the actual authorities.
Ramirez said it’s difficult to tell the private guards from the Customs and Border Protection officers, so it’s hard to make official complaints.
“In my case, when I returned to complain to the customs agents, they gave me a card addressed to the CBP, an agency that has nothing to do with private agents. We’re studying how to make a formal complaint. If it’s difficult for us, who understand how to navigate this system and have contacts in it, how much more difficult must it be for the general public,” Ramirez said.
An average of 102,000 people a day pass through San Ysidro, which separates San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico.