Officer David Lariz—the same Monroe County, Florida sheriff’s deputy who last month harassed an undocumented immigrant that had just been hit by a truck about his legal status before calling for medical assistance—is at it again, this time pulling over yet another undocumented immigrant for an alleged traffic violation and again badgering him about his legal status, according to Univision.
"So why don't you have legal documents?” a condescending Officer Lariz is shown asking Nestor Alfredo Duarte, who was forced to repeat three times during the interaction that he was “illegal” and had only an Argentinean ID on him. “Sixteen years you've been in the United States and you haven't bothered to do anything to get anything?" Lariz reported Duarte—a chef at a popular Cuban restaurant in Key West—to Border Patrol, and the dad is now on a possible path to deportation:
The arrest of the Argentine came just a week after the city's Key West commission signed a resolution urging city cops to refrain from getting involved in immigration issues.
However, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said the decision to call immigration authorities is at the discretion of each officer.
The first incident involving an illegal immigrant in which Lariz was involved generated criticism for the lack of humane treatment of someone involved in an accident, highlighting how this type of action undermines public confidence in the police.
"Once word gets out that law enforcement is really part of President Trump’s mass deportation force that will be the end of cooperation between America’s immigrant communities and local police,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
According to the Miami Herald’s Fabiola Santiago, there was “no disciplinary action taken against Lariz for not assisting the victim of an accident first and asking questions later.” When Santiago reached out to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to find out why local law enforcement officers are taking it upon themselves to use department resources to act as federal immigration agents, the sheriff’s spokesperson responded in an email that “neither the Sheriff nor I will be talking to you about this topic.”
An awfully bold department, unless it involves questions about accountability and heeding calls from city leaders, apparently.
Lone operator or departmental policy, either way, it’s hasta la vista to the laid-back, fun-loving Margaritaville spirit of the Keys and hello to southernmost hub of immigration law enforcement. There’s nothing a Donald Trump win can’t ruin. For immigrants — backbone workers of restaurants, bars and hotels in the Keys — it’s a brand new day. Be wary; lie low. The place is turning into unfriendly territory.
What’s happened to these two hardworking men helping their families abroad and now separated from loved ones in the United States is a consequence of the rotting soul of a sector of America — from the White House to the Keys, with hate and injustice for all.
The fact that a Monroe County Sheriff’s officer is telling immigrants that they cannot safely go to the department for help is a travesty. It’s the duty of local law enforcement to serve and protect their communities, not help this nativist administration foment so much fear that immigrants are refusing to report violent crime or sexual assault out of fear that it will lead to their deportation. After two incidents in the span of a few weeks, the anti-immigrant animus in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department is undeniable. Once is a coincidence; twice is a pattern.
“If the Keys community doesn’t demand more humane conduct from their officers, perhaps the rest of us should,” writes Santiago.