An amateur video that appeared on the Facebook page of the Refugio Police Department in Texas showed the arrest of a suspected illegal immigrant on the side of the road in the rural Texas community. A female companion of the man arrested by the police, who referred to him as her “boyfriend” and “husband”, objected to the roadside stop by the police officer.

The video showed that the police vehicle and the passenger car had been pulled over to the side of the road. In the vehicle were another woman and a small child. The video recorded the scene at first through the rear window of the car, where the man could be seen apparently speaking on a cellphone. The emotional woman who recorded the video can be heard saying, “This guy just pulled us over. Why is he getting arrested. For not having a driver’s license? No, there is no way he is going to be arrested for not having a driver’s license!”

The other woman could be heard speaking in Spanish on a cellphone, saying that she expected that the police officer would explain what was happening.

When the officer approached her car, she asked him if she could exit the car. He told her to remain in the car. However, she did not remain in her vehicle as instructed by the officer, who spoke to her all the while in moderate tones. When she asked “What’s going on?”, the officer answered that her boyfriend was talking to the Border Patrol. 

The woman called out to the officer, who had stepped back to speak to her male companion, “You have no reason to be asking this? We aren’t even close to the border!” Once the officer cuffed the suspect, the woman left her car and approached the officer while his back was turned away.

Despite being told “Step back!” by the officer, the woman continued to approach him to ask questions. Meanwhile, the boyfriend told the woman in Spanish “It’s okay. He’s calling Immigration.” After repeatedly being told to step back by the officer, the woman finally complied and walked back to her car. She told him “Did you know that is racist, sir? That is very racist!”  The officer and the suspect could be heard speaking in Spanish. 

While the officer was putting the suspect into his vehicle, the woman can be heard speaking in Spanish telling a person off camera that the “damn idiot” officer had called Border Patrol to process the suspect. When the officer returns to speak to the woman, he said “You’ve got to understand. I’m on the side of the road. I’ve got him to deal with. I’ve got you to deal with. You’ve got to understand my perspective. I’m by myself out here on the road. I don’t know what you’re going to do...That’s why I want you to stay in your car.” When the woman said, “I don’t mean you no harm,” the officer replied “I don’t know that. You would be surprised by the people I deal with on daily basis. I could turn away for a second and be in the ditch and you all drive away and no one will ever come get me.”

He then turned over the cell phone to the woman so that she can speak with Border Patrol. She asks “Why is this an issue? We’re on our way to Aransas. A lot of people are here illegally. We’re just trying to have a vacation.” Her voice betrays emotion while she spoke. “There is no reason. We are not even close to the border! Are you kidding me right now?” She then says, “Police have no right to ask a person’s immigration status,” while disputing what she hears from Border Patrol. “That’s illegal! That’s unconstitutional. I know my rights!” After admitting that her car was stopped because her license plate was improperly displayed, “So it’s just because my husband is a fucking Mexican. Is that the reason we got pulled over?”

The woman continued to dispute with the Border Patrol over the reasons for the stop and for her male companion’s arrest. Border Patrol told her that he was to be taken to Corpus Christi.

A Facebook page identified as El Valle 956 shared on the police Facebook page his version of events. In translation, it reads:

“In case you missed it: A male resident of Austin was arrested and turned over to Immigration while he was on his way with his family to Port Aransas. A police officer of Refugio, Texas, stopped him because he displayed his license plate on his dashboard. The stop led to questioning by the officer about the man’s immigration status, who then called the Border Patrol. This happened today, Saturday [August 12]. He is being held as of today in Corpus Christi. We have passed his information over to several pro-immigrant organizations, who have contacted his relatives to help free him from detention by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. The man’s relatives asked us to share this video that shows that even though [Texas law] SB4 has not yet gone into effect, some police officers are openly cooperating with Immigration.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which the ACLU has dubbed the “Show Me Your Papers” law, in May. It will go into effect on September 1, 2017.  The law requires, inter alia, that local law enforcement agencies that have custody of suspected illegal immigrants to comply with all federal immigration detainer requests, while also barring local entities such as jails, campus police and local police officers from prohibiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The town of Refugio is the seat of Refugio County. The town has a population of approximately 2400 people. It is the birthplace of baseball great Nolan Ryan.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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