Shane Parmely is a middle school teacher in the San Diego public schools. She was driving home and was stopped at a checkpoint by the Border Patrol. The officer asked her if she was a citizen. She refused to answer. She said, “If this a border crossing?” He said no. He repeated the question. She refused to answer. She said that friends and students who were brown were stopped frequently, and she didn’t think it was right. She knew that as a white woman, all she had to do was say “yes,” and she would be waved through. She decided to take a stand. The officers (now there were two) said they were just doing their job. See the video here.
The video has gone viral. We are not accustomed to people standing up and questioning authority. It is easier to be a sheep.
“Citizens?” an agent asked her as she drove up to the checkpoint.
“Are we crossing a border?” Parmely responded.
“No. Are you United States citizens?” he repeated.
“Are we crossing a border?” Parmely repeated. “I’ve never been asked if I’m a citizen before when I’m traveling down the road.”
As the agent continued to repeat his question, Parmely told him that he could ask her the question, but she didn’t have to answer.
“You are required to answer an immigration question,” the agent said. “You are not required to answer any other questions.”
When Parmely refused to answer the question, the agent told her that she was being detained for an immigration inspection.
“So if I just come through and say, ‘Yes, I’m a citizen,’ I can just go ahead?” Parmely asked.
“If the agent is justified by the answer, then yes,” the agent responded.
“So if I have an accent, and I’m brown, can I just say, ‘Yes,’ and go ahead or do I have to prove it?” she asked. “I have a bunch of teacher friends who are sick of their kids being discriminated against.”
“Ok, I’m not discriminating against anybody,” the agent said.
Good civics lesson, Shane.
Since when are people stopped on an American highway and questioned about their citizenship?
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