The mayor of Presidio, a small Texas border town, and numerous residents are outraged after an unnamed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent hung a sign for trick-or-treaters this Halloween warning visitors that “Only American families receive candy.”
The sign – printed in Spanish with red, white and blue letters – hung outside the agent’s home in a government-owned housing complex that’s supposed to be gated, but never is, especially for Halloween.
Neighbors took pictures of the sign and posted them to Facebook Saturday, sparking heated comments and condemnation for the CBP, which refused to name the agent responsible, Big Bend Now reports.
“I got pissed, that’s the first time I had seen something like that in Presidio,” said a resident who submitted a photo to My San Antonio but asked to remain anonymous.
Another resident at the government complex, Laurie Holman, believes the “sign has put a black eye on our relationship” with Mexico.
“This person shows incredible insensitivity and racism at its worst,” she said.
Erika Graham, who told El Diario de El Paso she was visiting friends in an adjacent home, took a picture of kids going past the sign Halloween night and posted it to Facebook with her thoughts, the Star-Telegram reports.
“I seriously can’t believe an officer in government housing was capable of posting this outside his house!” she wrote in the post. “Racist jerk! It’s about the kids, get over yourself! Keep your question ‘are you a U.S. citizen’ to your job requirement!”
Presidio resident Alex Galindo also sent a picture of the sign to a Midland-Odessa TV station.
“Presidio is a small border town and 99 percent of the population is Hispanic, so this is something I have never seen,” Galindo wrote online, according to the Star-Telegram, which pointed out the town is actually 94 percent Hispanic.
“It’s sad to see this in my town,” he wrote.
The pictures posted online, of course, generated a lot of attention and comments, including a Facebook post by Presidio Mayor John Furguson.
“Halloween is always a fun day in Presidio, and we share it with any kids from Mexico (and elsewhere) who want to come join in on ‘Trick-or-Treating,’” he wrote in a post sharing Galindo’s picture. “I always cherish being able to experience the may festive occasions I our sister city of Ojinaga, (Mexico) ….
“No one has ever told me I couldn’t be a part of the celebration on these days in Mexico because I am a U.S. citizen. By the same token, I want to encourage everyone in our community to continue to treat visitors with open hearts and open arms, as we would hope they would do the same for us in their homes.”
None of the media agencies spoke with the agent involved, but CBP spokesman Bill Brooks issued a statement about the sign, which was taken down shortly after Halloween.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Big Bend Sector regret that an employee chose to post the sign in question at his residence during Halloween. The sign does not reflect the opinion of this agency. We respect all people regardless of their culture, nationality or country of origin. We apologize for any harm this incident may have created in our relationship with the community,” he wrote.