Unlawful Apprehension of a Disabled Combat Veteran

I answer and explain to him I am Transgender, Female to Male. He demands to see my Driver’s License. I told him my wallet was in my checked bag as I have never had a reason to bring it on my person if I had my passport with me

Unfortunately, my five day trip back from Cancun (21 October 2016) ended on a very sour note. I am a 26 year old Disabled Combat Veteran. I am 100% service connected through the VA and considered disabled in a fully favorable decision with Social Security. I fly priority/first class because of the nerve damage on my right leg and the migraines I get. I also suffer from PTSD, with major depressive disorder. I have a service dog that could not travel with me at the time. My cousin Denise, was on this flight with me.
I approached the Customs & Border Patrol Officer with all of my required documents. He asked all the basic questions they ask, where you coming from? How many days? Business or pleasure? etc. Then he proceeded to ask for my social security number and my height and weight. I answer and explain to him I am Transgender, Female to Male. He demands to see my Driver’s License. I told him my wallet was in my checked bag as I have never had a reason to bring it on my person if I had my passport with me, a legal form of identification. He stepped out and went to his supervisor. His Supervisor came over and asked what I did for a living. I told him I was medically retired through the Army. He asked what I did in the Army and I said Military Police. The Supervisor got close to me and said, “Put your hands behind your back” I asked “Why?” What crimes have I committed, I am tired of being honest and having to be strip searched. He said put your hands behind your back because I said so.
By then my cousin had made herself up to the front of the line and was witnessing everything. I had also met a couple on the plane and they were confused as to what was happening as they repeatedly heard me state I am Transgender and I demand to know why I am being put in handcuffs. I have not committed a crime. I have not pose any danger/threat to anyone else.
I have markings on my wrists and I told the Officers I was a disabled Veteran. I recently had surgery on my left hand. I was shove into secondary inspection. Nobody would answer me as to why I was in handcuffs and treated as a criminal. The woman officer said I was coming from a foreign country and they had no idea who I was. I said yes, and there are hundreds of other people like that out there and yet I am the only one in handcuffs. She stated there was a warrant out for my arrest. I demanded a lawyer. She told me we have not processed you into this country so you have NO RIGHTS, as she held my US PASSPORT in hand.

I was put in a cell and told to sit on the concrete, I explained to them I was disabled and I couldn’t sit on concrete because it would further aggravate my injury. I was told to face the wall all while still being in cuffs. My PTSD is very severe that I suffer from psychosomatic tremors. My body shakes uncontrollably. They began to say that I was in handcuffs for their own safety. I had never possessed threatening behavior. The lady began to search me and all of my personal belongings. I asked why? She said there was a missing person report filed. I asked, if that gave her the right to put me in handcuffs without being explained what was going on. I was stripped of my rights as an American Citizen. I was belittled and embarrassed in front of many other travelers. The couple I met are two of my witnesses who are willing to write statements or testify and obviously my cousin, Denise. I have taken pictures of my wrist since the other wrist is covered in tattoos. Nobody ever apologized and simply said it was protocol.

I shared with them on multiple occasions that I was disabled and was suffering from a severe migraine. Having to face the wall in handcuffs while my left shoulder is bent back like that was making it go numb and causing severe pain. In March 2016, I had surgery to try to decompress some of the tension in there. My hat and sunglasses were taken from me, and the bright lights made the migraine even more severe.

I was taken out of the handcuffs for the full body searched. I wasn’t naked but she did not use her palm up as she went through my private areas. I am Trangender and my anatomy is not of a regular female.  I was fully searched for a missing person report. They lied prior to that and said I had a warrant out for my arrest. The supervisor placed me in handcuffs without an explanation. Other individuals that were taken for a second inspection WERE NOT placed in handcuffs at least while I was there I didn’t see that happening.
Miranda Vs. Arizona taught us a valuable lesson in history and that man was guilty but the police mishandle the whole situation and now we have the Miranda Rights. I, was placed in handcuffs without an explanation and taken to secondary inspection on lies of a warrant for my arrest that turned out to be a missing person report.
In addition, I’ve spent all weekend at the Phoenix VA Emergency room for the severe pain.
I am scared for my life and safety if I have to fly into LAX again. I appreciate your time and I hope we can bring justice not only for me but for the ones who will come after me. I want my story to be heard and shared. I have been turned away by numerous law firms for mentioning I am Transgender.
I have yet to find legal representation, but need a community connection to someone willing to take this case.
Jay Galterio Vargas
RETIRED SGT, USA
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