On April 27, 31-year-old Honduran immigrant Marcos Antonio Huete was hit by a pickup truck while riding his bicycle to work in Key West, Florida. When police showed up, Huete was not treated like a victim at all, but rather the immigrant was treated like a suspect. Recently-released police body cam footage shows that the first officer on the scene immediately began interrogating Huete, rather than checking on his safety.
Instead of checking on Antonio Huete’s physical well-being, the officer began asking about his immigration status, video from Univision shows.
As they approach Antonio Huete, who can be seen laying on the ground after being hit by the pickup, the officer begins questioning Huete’s immigration status, saying, “You illegal? Are you a legal citizen or no? Speak English? You got ID? Passport, visa, or what?” As Think Progress points out, the officer failed to live up to the Monroe County (the County where Key West is located) Sheriff’s Office Code of Ethics, which states officers are expected to “treat people with dignity, good faith and equity; without discrimination.”
Things only got worse for Antonio Huete after he finally received medical attention.
Antonio Huete was told to return to the scene after he received medical attention. Upon returning, he was fined $75 because officers determined he was at fault for the accident. He was then detained by Border Patrol and has since been held at the Krome Detention Center in Miami, Florida, Think Progress reports.
Antonio Huete’s sister told Univision, “The fact that we do not have papers does not mean that we do not have rights.”
Law enforcement agents first had an obligation to make sure Marcos Antonio Huete received proper medical care after being hit by a car. https://t.co/Pz5sUe1pzp
— ACLU of Florida (@ACLUFL) May 25, 2017
As Think Progress reports, Antonio Huete’s deportation apparently stems from a deportation order from 2010. Critics, however, argue that aside from not offering medical assistance to Antonio Huete, the police department is under no obligation to contact immigration agents. Other criticism stems from how the officer handled the situation. Howard Simon from the American Civil Liberties Union told Univision, “Asking for immigration status to a person after being hit by a car offends human rights sensitivity and is very counterproductive for effective law enforcement.”
This incident is similar to another in which a passenger was questioned by Minneapolis Transit police.
This incident occurred on the Minneapolis Blue Line light rail train, northbound on Sunday, May 14, 2017. Question of the Day: why are Metro Transit Police asking people's immigration status???
Posted by Ricardo Levins Morales on Friday, May 19, 2017
Video from Ricardo Morales captured the incident, which occurred on May 14th. Minneapolis Metro Transit police confronted a passenger over fare, but the conversation quickly turned to an interrogation on the person’s immigration status. While filming, Morales asked the officers, “Are you guys authorized to act as immigration police?” He then informed them that asking questions about a person’s immigration status was “very touchy legal territory.” After Morales’ intervention, the video shows, the officer dropped his questioning.
Metro has assured its citizens that Minneapolis is still a sanctuary city, despite this incident.
"You can say we’re a sanctuary city…but it only has meaning if it actually affects people’s behaviour." https://t.co/AhU4m5i7az
— Eva Salinas (@eva_sita) May 22, 2017
In an attempt to reassure passengers, Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington released the following statement to the Metro Transit’s Facebook page:
It is not the practice of the Metro Transit police to inquire about the immigration status of our riders. Our policy states:
“It is the policy of the Metro Transit Police Department that all members make personal and professional commitments to equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public. Confidence in this commitment will increase the effectiveness of this department in protecting and serving the entire community and recognizing the dignity of all persons, regardless of their immigration status.”
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