Minneapolis, MN - Andy Lamers is no longer a Metro Transit Officer, after asking a light-rail passenger, Ariel Vences-Lopes, if 'he was in the country illegally', according to Fox News.
The incident occurred on May 14, as Officer Lamers was doing a fare check on the Blue Line Light Rail. In a cell phone video that was captured by another passenger, Minneapolis artist Ricardo Levins Morales, the officer asked Vences-Lopes if he had a government-issued ID.
When Vences-Lopes shook his head no. Considering that almost everybody, including a great number of illegal immigrants, have government issued IDs, it's probably safe to assume that if you are an adult without a government issued ID, you are likely in the country illegally.
In order to determine if somebody is lying, it's reasonable to ask if they are in the country illegally, which is what Officer Lamers asked him.
According to a Metro Transit Police report, Vences-Lopes, age 23, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was arrested and charged with suspicion of obstructing the legal process, giving an officer a false name, and fare evasion.
On May 23, a federal immigration judge issued a final order of removal against Vences-Lopes, according to the Star-Tribune. He is now in ICE custody, and will remain there until he is deported.
The cell phone video was released days after the incident and has since gone viral. The Metro Transit Police Department said that they did not contact ICE, and that there was no mention of of Vences-Lopes' immigration status in the police report, indicating that the officer made no efforts to enforce immigration law.
Technically, the city of Minneapolis is not a 'sanctuary city', but an ordinance has been in place since 2003 that prevents police officers from 'asking about a person's immigration status unless it is relevant to a crime,' which it was.
In a Facebook post, Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington said:
"Metro Transit remains committed to ensuring its officers protect our communities and act in accordance with the high standards expected of them. Our policies and procedures reflect our commitment that our officers will not act as immigration officers.
On May 23rd, Metro Transit first became aware that an officer questioned a rider about his immigration status. Immediately, our focus turned to ensuring that our officers fully understand and adhere to our policy regarding immigration status.
The policy has been updated to explicitly state that Metro Transit officers will 'ensure equal enforcement of the law and equal service to all persons regardless of their immigration status.' We also are working to reestablish the trust that was broken by this isolated incident...
We continue to reach out to community partners to notify them of updated information. We are also working to address the issues raised by community members. The officer seen in the video is no longer an employee of the Metro Transit Police Department. We have initiated a process for posting the Metro Transit Police Department’s manual online, making it publicly accessible..."
The mainstream media picked up on this, and started trumpeting how Officer Lamers, who works full-time for the New Hope Police Department, was fired. Chief Harrington said in his statement that the officer no longer works with the MTPD.
Sean Gormley, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services, said that Andy Lamers “was not terminated by Metro Transit for any policy violation, as some media reports have indicated." Instead, he resigned on his own.
In a statement, Gormley said that Officer Lamers “resigned on his own accord, in part to try to spare Metro Transit from further scrutiny. He regrets the attention this issue has brought to his fellow officers at Metro Transit."
He also said that Officer Andy Lamers is “an experienced, dedicated police officer with an exemplary record of service", and that “many police departments have no specific rules in place about this issue.”