As we posted on the Baja California Post, travelers from Los Angeles have been detained and fined several thousand dollars for using the wrong lane when crossing the border from Mexico into the United States.
Two Los Angeles residents told KTTV-TV this week they were detained and forced to pay fines so their cars would not be impounded after accidentally using the so-called Sentri Lane, which only permits pre-approved travelers to use.
“They shackled me to this metal bench as I waited for three hours,” Rose, a Burbank, California resident, told the outlet about her experience at the Tijuana/San Ysidro Port of Entry, where she accidentally used the Sentri Lane, which has concrete barriers that make it impossible for a car to leave the lane once it has entered.
“When we put in the address to go back home, it basically told us to go through a certain way, I guess Sentri is the fastest way to get out of the border,” Rose said.
“I had never been humiliated in my life the way I was humiliated that afternoon,” Ana Salazar, a Pasadena, California resident, told KTTV-TV.
Attorney John Manley told the outlet he has represented drivers detained and fined for using the wrong lane.
“They basically shackle you to a bench for two, three hours,” Manley said. “They say, ‘Yep, we’re gonna take your car,’ or, ‘we’re gonna fine you $5,000,’ for what amounts to being in the wrong lane of traffic.”
Agents from the CBP said that drivers are issued a $5,000 fine only if they have used the Sentri lane for the third time, but California residents told KTTV-TV they never received a warning.
“When I was in the office waiting, one of the agents came in and he shouted at everyone else in the office, ‘Oh, we got another $5K,’” Salazar said. “Obviously, someone else went through the same thing I did. So, I just thought to myself, Oh, this is just a business.”