Border Patrol Accused of Illegal Intrusions on Private Property

A woman in southern Arizona has formally accused the U.S. Border Patrol of repeatedly violating her rights, subjecting her family to numerous “unreasonable intrusions” that included an incident in which she says an agent slashed one of her car tires on a desert road.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed two claims on behalf of the woman, Clarisa Christiansen, who seeks more than $1.5 million in compensation under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Ms. Christiansen, whose home in Three Points is about 40 miles from the Mexican border, said Border Patrol agents “knowingly and without authorization” entered her property several times in the more than 20 years she has lived there.

“These recurring, unauthorized and unreasonable intrusions substantially interfere with the existing use and enjoyment of the land in a manner that is imminently dangerous to Ms. Christiansen, her family and their property,” according to the claims, which were filed on Tuesday.

The A.C.L.U. had previously filed a complaint over “roving patrol” stops on behalf of Ms. Christiansen and four others in 2013 — a complaint that the A.C.L.U. says the Department of Homeland Security has so far ignored.

James Lyall, Ms. Christiansen’s lawyer, said if the agency does not respond to the two claims within six months, Ms. Christiansen will be able to sue in federal court.

A Border Patrol spokesman said the agency “does not comment on pending litigation.”

One claim accused Border Patrol agents of coming onto Ms. Christiansen’s property — about 25 miles west of Tucson — several times by foot and car, despite “no trespassing” signs on her house and verbal warnings from her and her family. Border Patrol agents are allowed to enter private property, but not dwellings, within 25 miles of the border; the complaint pointed out that Ms. Christiansen’s home was well outside that boundary.

Helicopters that sometimes shine a spotlight on her house also fly as close as 20 feet above her house, shaking it and waking up her family, according to the claim.

“You feel like you’re being watched for no reason all the time,” Ms. Christiansen said in a video posted last year by the A.C.L.U.

In a May 2013 incident, Border Patrol agents stopped her as she was driving her two children home from school without any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, according to the claim.

After telling an agent that she was a United States citizen, Ms. Christiansen refused to leave her car without knowing why the agent stopped her. The agent would not give her a reason until she left her car, so Ms. Christiansen “wished the agents a good day,” according to the claim.

The agent then told two other agents that “this one is being difficult, get the Taser,” and then threatened to cut Ms. Christiansen’s seatbelt with a knife, the claim stated. He then took Ms. Christiansen’s keys out of the ignition.

Ms. Christiansen “felt that she had no choice” other than to leave the vehicle and talk with the agents, who left shortly after without giving any reason for the stop.

But Ms. Christiansen noticed her tire was now flat, with the puncture suggesting the tire was cut with a knife. Her son also said he noticed an agent slashing the tire.

“They just seem to think they can do whatever they want and bully everybody around,” Ms. Christiansen said in the video. “It’s just not right.”