Former Arizona Gov. Raul Castro, who in the 1970s served as the state's first and only Hispanic governor, and U.S. ambassador to Argentina,was detained at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint for 30 minutes in the triple-digit desert heat just a day after he underwent heart treatment. Castro was removed from his car and taken to a sweltering tent for inspection after his pacemaker apparently set off a radiation sensor on the highway, about 24 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.* "I don’t condemn them for doing a job,” said Castro, “but once I was identified and I was 96 years of age and told them I had medical treatment the day before, I expected a little more."
He spoke further to Arizona's The Republic:
"The sun was blazing on me," he said. "Once I identified myself, who I was, and that I had been to the doctor, I was under medical care, I have a pacemaker on my heart, (I would have thought) that they would have been more considerate and said, 'Keep on going.' But that didn't happen."
Castro's wife said of the incident, "It's traumatic, to say the least, for an old man," and that the Border Patrol officials need to use "more common sense."
The checkpoint incident happened on June 12, as Castro was headed from his home in the border town of Nogales to a luncheon in Tucson to celebrate his 96th birthday. The car was driven by Anne Doan, daughter of former Nogales, Ariz., Mayor Arthur Doan and a family friend of the Castros.
Doan, who is also a professor at the University of Arizona, was a bit more critical in a column she wrote for Nogales International:
"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."
Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties of Arizona, said 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," Soler said, "Agents should have used discretion instead of relying solely on technology," in deciding to detain the former Governor.
* The ACLU notes that the US Border Control does "not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a 'routine search'" on areas within 100 miles of the "external boundary" of the US, an area which the ACLU estimates includes two thirds of the US population, or 197.4 million people.
UPDATE: Salon interviewed former AZ Gov. Castro, and apparently this was not his first run-in with the border patrol...or even the second! Full story here.