A pledge to address illegal immigration was one of the cornerstones of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. It has proven to be one of his more controversial measures. Supporters of the president say he is simply enforcing the country’s immigration laws while opponents say his policies are racially motivated.
While the president’s intent might be up for debate, it’s hard to argue that one Colorado man wasn’t the victim of racial profiling. According to Denver 7 News, Bernardo Medina is a natural-born U.S. citizen who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for two days due to his Hispanic heritage.
On January 27, 2015, Medina appeared in Gunnison County Court for a sentencing hearing on a DUI charge. As he was leaving the courthouse, Medina was approached by two men who identified themselves as ICE officers. When asked, Medina produced a Colorado ID that confirmed his identify.
The two officers requested that Medina come with them to an immigration facility and he agreed out of a desire to be helpful. The details of what happened next are still unclear, but the lawsuit alleges that Medina was subject to a warrantless search prior to being taken to the immigration center in Alamosa. Medina said that he only agreed to the trip once the ICE officers promised to bring him to to Gunnison once they were done with their questions.
Medina was detained for several days despite repeated attempts to prove his citizenship. The ICE agents were apparently convinced that he was a citizen of Mexico and one allegedly told him “you don’t look like you were born in Montrose.”
Medina’s attorney, Andy Richmond, says this was a clear example of racial profiling and argues that Medina was targeted on the basis of his race and ethnicity. In the suit he argues that the above statement was “a clear allusion to [Medina’s] Hispanic appearance.”
The suit alleges that the ICE agents would not let Medina go unless he paid a $12,000 bond because they did not believe he was a U.S. citizen.
Eventually, Medina was transported to a different ICE facility in Colorado Springs where he repeatedly informed officials that he was a U.S. citizen and tried to get in touch with his family to produce a copy of his birth certificate.
‘Not only was he insisting to every person who would listen that he was a U.S. citizen, his family was also on the outside trying to talk with any ICE official that would talk with them to show his birth certificate.’
On the 29th of that year, he was taken to yet another ICE facility in Aurora. This one was ran by GEO Group and it was there that he was finally released. Apparently, this facility had received a copy of his birth certificate.
However, rather than apologize and admit their mistake, the guards there allegedly threatened Medina with prosecution and claimed that he had made no effort to tell them he was an American citizen. The suit alleges that when he was released, it was with a dead cellphone and less than $5 in his pocket.
Medina is currently the party of two separate lawsuits. One is against GEO group and the other against the ICE agents who detained him.
Featured image via Getty Images.