A teacher from California squared off with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol federal agents when she attempted to pass through an immigration checkpoint in New Mexico and was asked whether she was a citizen of the United States.
If you’ve ever driven through a checkpoint, you know that they’re a mild inconvenience, mostly because of the time spent sitting and waiting to get through them. But to San Diego teacher Shane Parmely, this New Mexico checkpoint was an opportunity to make a political statement.
In an encounter she filmed and posted on Facebook, Parmely remained defiant when pressed about her citizenship status.
“Are we crossing a border?” she asked the agent.
“No. Are you United States citizens?” the agent fired back, referring to Parmely and her passengers.
“Are we crossing the border?” Parmely wondered again. “I’ve never been asked if I’m a citizen before when I’m traveling down the road,” she added, insisting that she does not have to answer the question.
“You are required to answer an immigration question,” the agent informed her. “You are not required to answer any other questions.”
Clearly tired of her antics, the agents moved to detain her, to which Parmely asked: “So if I just come through and say, ‘yes, I’m a citizen,’ I can just go ahead?”
“If the agent is justified by the answer, then yes,” he replied.
Parmely took issue with the response by claiming that the agents would not have believed her if she had brown skin or an accent. “I have a bunch of teacher friends who are sick of their kids being discriminated against,” she said.
Eventually, Parmely was allowed to leave – and she never admitted whether she was or was not a U.S. citizen. Her actions of been celebrated by some commenters and reviled by others, with Parmely’s critics claiming that she was disrespecting law enforcement officers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
In a statement, the Border Patrol clarified that agents “may detain the driver for a reasonable amount of time until he or she can make a determination regarding the occupant’s immigration status” if drivers refuse to answer questions.