Former Arizona Gov. Raul Castro was traveling from his home in Nogales, Ariz., to celebrate his 96th birthday in Tucson when his vehicle triggered a radiation sensor at a Border Patrol checkpoint just north of Tubac. The former governor was detained in 100-degree heat for more close to 45-minutes.
Castro explained that he had undergone hospital testing on his pacemaker the previous day, likely triggering the sensor, but border patrol agents still made him wait outside of his car in the 100-degree weather while they conducted their investigation, AZ Central reports.
Anne Doan, a family friend from Nogales who was driving Castro to the birthday luncheon in Tucson, wrote a letter to the Nogales International newspaper recounting the incident:
Last week I was honored to accompany former governor and ambassador to Bolivia, El Salvador and Argentina under two U.S. presidents, Raul Castro, to his 96th birthday celebration in Tucson. Gov. Castro and his wife Patricia could live anywhere in the world and they decided to live in Nogales, and the community is flattered. When we went through the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on I-19 north of Tubac, we were detained after an agent said we had appeared as a nuclear threat. The agent asked if anyone had had a medical treatment lately and Gov. Castro said he had one the previous day. She said the solution he was given might have triggered their alarm system.
We were sent to secondary inspection and were asked to step out of the car. When they asked the governor to stand under the tent, I asked if he could remain seated in the air-conditioned car because it might be too hot for him. The agents said he could not and that they had a fan under the tent.
I explained to the agent he had undergone a medical treatment the previous day and it must be the solution that set off their system. They said he had to stay under the tent, in 100-degree hear, while dressed in a suit. They offered him a chair. I felt totally frustrated and I was worried about the governor. […] At that point I was begging them to leave him alone. They brought out a document for him to fill out and sign. They had a machine they ran up and down his body front and back. Finally they released us and as we were walking back to the car they stopped him and said they had to see his identification. We were standing out in the sun, by this time, and Gov. Castro reached for his identification and showed it to the agent, they registered the information they needed from his identification and they released us, again.
I was helpless and overwhelmed by the incident. I felt the agents had no regard for the governor’s background or age or physical condition. I was embarrassed as I watched the governor being needlessly treated like a nuclear threat, especially because they knew he had just had a treatment at Tucson Heart Hospital the day before. I felt he was being disrespected as a senior citizen, much less the amazing statesman that he is.
Castro’s experience with agents was not unique.
“This happens all the time in terms of these types of indiscriminate stops of individuals not suspected of any wrongdoing,” Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties of Arizona, told AZ Central.
“I think most people would agree that subjecting a 96-year-old man to secondary screening does little to secure our borders and a man who had just informed them that he had undergone this medical procedure,” she went on to say.