Man on viral video being deported, cop who questioned his immigration status fired


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say Ariel Vences-Lopez was detained for immigration violations on May 15.

The day before, Vences-Lopez was captured on cellphone video being questioned by a transit officer aboard a light rail train.

The officer asks Vences-Lopez if he is in the country illegally. The man who shot the video, Minneapolis artist Ricardo Levins Morales, interrupts the officer and questions his authority in terms of immigration matters.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers took Vences-Lopez into custody on May 16.

Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington said in a statement posted on the department’s Facebook page that the officer who questioned Vences-Lopez had been terminated.

“We … are working to reestablish the trust that was broken by this isolated incident,” Harrington said.

The statement said Metro Transit Police aren’t “trained or empowered authorized to act as federal immigration authorities.”

The chief says in the statement that Vences-Lopez was booked at Hennepin County Jail after the incident in question for not paying the fare to ride the light rail.

“There was no reference to his immigration status in the police reports, nor did

MTPD notify ICE or any other agency of any immigration-related concerns,” Harrington said.

A federal immigration judge ordered Vences-Lopez to be deported to Mexico on May 23.