To Luiz Saenz, Cameron County District Attorney: As the faculty, students and staff of the Department of Romance Studies and the Latin American Studies Program at Cornell University, we are writing to voice our collective demand that the baseless criminal charges brought against Omar Figueredo and Nancy Morales be dropped. We are writing to express our outrage at the racism and intimidation used in illegally demanding to know Omar and Nancy’s citizenship status upon boarding a domestic flight at the Brownsville, Texas airport. We fully support Omar and Nancy’s actions both as friends and colleagues and as scholars and community members who dedicate our lives to studying the forms of illegal discrimination and political repression that Nancy and Omar rightly resisted. On Tuesday morning, Nancy Morales and Omar Figueredo were arrested by Brownsville Police officers after they both refused to answer questions regarding their citizenship status made by Border Patrol agents at the Brownsville airport. We believe that this arrest, though carried out by the Brownsville Police Department was essentially a favor to the Border Patrol agent who had no authority to arrest them or to force them to answer any questions. Omar and Nancy had made it perfectly clear to the Border Patrol agent that they were willing to go to the TSA agent and lawfully and legally present their identification and boarding passes without need for any further harassment by a Border Patrol agent. When it was clear that border patrol was not and could not arrest them, and that there were no legitimate charges that could be levied against them, the Brownsville police stepped in and arrested the two without any previous warning. Omar has been charged with failure to identify himself (Class A misdemeanor), obstructing a passageway (Class B misdemeanor) and resisting arrest (Class A misdemeanor). Nancy has been charged with interfering with the duties of a public servant. We believe that these are all bogus charges. We believe that to have a Border Patrol agent stop all passengers on a domestic flight after never having left the country constitutes a form of harassment that borderland dwellers, whether documented or long-time undocumented, have endured all of their lives. This practice must be resisted and stopped. Nancy and Omar were totally justified, both morally and legally, in their actions and we commend them for standing up to border racial profiling and harassment. All charges stemming from this interaction should be dropped.
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