Police ask car accident victim to prove immigration status before helping, then detain him
“You illegal?” That’s the first thing Marcos Antonio Huete heard when approached by a Monroe County sheriff. Just moments earlier, the back wheel of his bike had been clipped by a car. Instead of seeing how he could help him, the officer was asking Huete about his immigration status, according to Univision.
“Are you a legal citizen or no? Speak English? You got ID? Passport, visa, or what?” the sheriff can be heard saying on video. Due to a language barrier, Huete used his phone to call his sister who later arrived on the scene.
“He did not tell us why, but we went back because my brother had not done anything. We had no reason to flee,” said Olga Huete.
The two left the hospital hours later only to be told to return to the scene of the accident. That’s when Huete was given a $75 ticket by a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles officer. The officer had determined that the woman who hit him wasn’t responsible for the collision as Huete “darted out in front” of her truck as she turned the corner.
Next, Border Patrol agents arrived and asked him to provide his documents. Huete, who is an undocumented citizen, wasn’t able to do so and was taken into custody. He now faces the likely possibility of being deported to Honduras.
“The fact that we do not have papers does not mean that we do not have rights,” said Olga Huete.
Huete’s sister and other family members have been vocal critics of what occurred that day, especially the uncalled for involvement of Border Patrol agents.
“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,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Simon is one of many critics who feel that these kinds of incidents damage the trust between police and the communities they’re sworn to protect. If there are people afraid to leave the house because they may force deportation, how could they be expected to cooperate with police if they ever encounter them?
“The moment these agents become the mass deportation force of President [Donald] Trump will be the end of any cooperation between immigrant communities in the United States and the local police,” said Simon.