A police officer in Minnesota has been fired after simply asking a question about a suspect’s legal status. But were the policies that led to his termination really in the best interests of the people he was trying to protect and serve?
Here’s how it went down, according to Fox, earlier this month. An officer with the Minnesota Transit Police confronted a man suspected of fare dodging on a Minneapolis commuter train:
After the exchange with the transit officer, the passenger, Ariel Vences-Lopez, 23, was arrested for fare evasion and was taken to the Hennepin County jail in Minneapolis. He was eventually placed on a detainer for immigration violations, the Star Tribune reported.
The incident occurred May 14 and was captured on cellphone video. The officer is seen asking Vences-Lopez for a government-issued ID after an apparent ticket dispute. When Vences-Lopez shook his head, the officer asks: “Are you here illegally?”
A now-viral video captured by a bystander shows a portion of the incident, after which Vences-Lopez was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is now scheduled for deportation to Mexico.
Now, that officer is out of a job, according to a statement from the Metro Transit Police Department, as the city has barred law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status since 2003.
A lengthy Facebook explains that, since the incident, the department’s policy was subsequently updated to “ensure equal enforcement of the law and equal service to all persons regardless of their immigration status” and states that the agency is “working to reestablish the trust that was broken by this isolated incident.”
But wouldn’t equal application of the law include enforcing the law on people whose immigration status is outside that law? David Ray, communications director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, says so.
“It’s in the best interest of the American people if state and local cops and federal immigration officials can work in tandem to help control illegal immigration,” he tells CR. And at the end of the day, what’s standing in the way of the American people’s best interests are policies like that in Minneapolis, which, Ray says, is “wrong-headed and undermines public safety.”
While his organization does not comment on specific cases, “as it’s likely all of the facts have yet to come out,” the officer clearly did the people of Minneapolis a big favor by taking steps to identify an illegal alien who, for reasons unknown to us, was immediately flagged for removal by ICE.