Residents in the border town of Presidio, Texas are outraged after a mean-spirited Spanish language sign reading “Solo las familias Americanas recibiran dulces” — or “Only American families receive sweets” — appeared outside a government housing building for U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees on Halloween night, according to a local CBS affiliate.
Adilene Saenz, a Presidio resident, saw the sign when she was out trick-or-treating with her daughter. She told CBS 7 that the person handing out candy at the door was dressed as Uncle Sam. Other residents indicated that the CBP personnel may have been dressed as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
El Diario de El Paso, a Spanish-language publication, interviewed a woman who said that the CBP employee asked non-English speaking children,” Are you a U.S. citizen?” before handing out Halloween candy to them.
I seriously can’t believe an officer in government housing was capable of posting this outside his house!Racist jerk!…
The CBP agency issued a statement saying that it “regrets that an employee chose to post the sign in question at his residence during Halloween” and that it would “apologize for any harm this incident may have created in our relationship with the community,” though further action has not been taken against the employee.
As of 2013, the town of Presidio has a 82.7 percent Latino population and has friendly ties to Ojinaga, its sister city in Mexico. Mayor John Ferguson took to social media to denounce the sign, stating in part, “I want to encourage everyone in our community to continue to treat visitors with open hearts and open arms, as we would hope they would do the same for us in their homes.”
The event was likely an isolated incident and does not represent the intentions of other CBP employees. However, the CBP agency has a long history of abuse allegations, such as relying on racial profiling, using excessive force, and committing verbal and physical abuse against suspected undocumented immigrants.
Earlier this year, CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske stated that his agency’s response to an “unprecedented surge in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children and their families” on the southwest border was to treat the people with “professionalism and compassion.” However, during the peak of that crisis as unaccompanied children from Latin America scrambled into the country to flee violence and poverty, five major human rights groups alleged in a joint complaint that CBP officials physically abused unaccompanied children, with charges of sexual assaults, beatings, and the use of stress positions.
And it’s perhaps unsurprising that further action hasn’t been taken against the CBP employee. The American Civil Liberties Union found that only one out of 142 complaints lodged between January and August 2014 resulted in disciplinary action.