California teacher Shane Parmely is a U.S. citizen living in San Diego. But when she refused to answer Border Patrol agents’ questions about her citizenship, she and her children were detained for more than an hour.
Parmely posted multiple videos to her Facebook page last Friday showing her confrontation with Border Patrol agents as she passed a checkpoint in New Mexico during a vacation.
“I’m passing a federally funded highway, driving, minding my own business,” Parmely can be heard telling agents in one of the videos she posted. “And I get pulled over and asked if I’m a citizen.”
“You can ask me,” she adds. “I don’t have to answer.”
“You are free to go as soon as you state your citizenship,” a Border Patrol agent can be heard saying as she points a camera at Parmely in another video. “You will be detained here until you state your citizenship.”
Parmely, who is white, told 10News she refused to state her citizenship in protest of Border Patrol agents routinely targeting people of color, including Latin Americans.
“When you see something that is clearly racist, you have a choice,” Parmely told the station. “We would have no civil rights if people didn’t question authority or challenge the status quo.”
On Facebook, Parmely said she only saw “brown people get asked to show papers.”
A Border Patrol spokeswoman told 10News that the checkpoints are a “critical tool for the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.”
“During the course of the immigration inspection, if an occupant refuses to answer an agent’s questions, the agent may detain the driver for a reasonable amount of time until he or she can make a determination regarding the occupant’s immigration status,” spokeswoman Jackie Wasiluk told the station in an email.
Parmely said she and her children were detained for approximately 90 minutes before they were finally free to go. At no point did she ever tell the agents whether she was a citizen, she said.
“If it would inconvenience too many white people then the system would change, and that’s really the only time anything changes is when too many white people get inconvenienced, and it’s not worth enforcing the racist policy anymore,” Parmely said.