Fernando Garci-Crespo Santalo says he was approached by a man who asked to see his work papers while he was busking in Spanish in downtown Victoria. (Facebook/Fernando Garci-Crespo Santalo)

Mexican expat allegedly harassed by fake immigration officer while busking in Victoria

Fernando Garci-Crespo Santalo says he was approached by a man while singing in Spanish

A Mexican expat living in Victoria says he was approached by a man claiming to be an immigration officer and demanding to see his work papers while busking downtown in the city.

In a Facebook post, 20-year-old Fernando Garci-Crespo Santalo says he is a busker and was singing a song in Spanish downtown.

“An old white guy claiming to be an immigration officer approached me demanding I show him my work papers so he knew I wasn’t ‘an illegal worker taking jobs away from Canadians,’” the post reads.

It continues, saying the man wouldn’t leave Santalo alone and would get him in trouble if he didn’t show the man his papers.

“I told him until he proved he was who he said he was I had no obligation to show him anything,” the post reads.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: B.C. Sikh man offers unknown culprit behind racist graffiti ‘a cup of tea’

Santalo then says the man became angry and reached for something in his bag, which looked like it was filled with recycling. Thinking of the recent deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas, and having been physically assaulted in Canada before, Santalo says he felt “unsafe” and “terrified” and quickly told the man he had a licence and could show it to him.

After doing so, the man took his empty hand out of his bag, “said more xenophobic things” and left.

The incident has left Santalo feeling hesitant to sing in Spanish, the post reads.

“I am afraid. This is repugnant. We cannot live like this.”

He goes on to say people should know things like this still happen in Canada, not only in the U.S., and that people need to fight against racism and xenophobia.

His Facebook post had 471 shares and 257 comments as of 2 p.m. on Saturday, just one day after he posted it. Many commenters expressed sadness on behalf of Santalo and encouraged him to keep singing in Spanish. Some even offered to be with him for support.

“I’ll take a shift being with you sometime and holding space for as much Spanish as you want to sing,” one comment reads.

READ ALSO: Esquimalt man says neighbour painted racist slogans on fence

“I’m sorry this happened to you. Please keep singing! You are welcome in Canada,” another comment says.

Santalo took to Facebook again after receiving support from so many, saying it has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

He says after the man left, he was able to play five songs for a provincial high school basketball team from New Brunswick, who sang along with him.

“I had never gathered such a big crowd before, this was right after I was approached by the man claiming to be an immigration officer,” the post reads.

Santalo continues, saying he decided to sing in Spanish again after hearing a family speaking the language. He says they were kind and spent time talking with them.

The Facebook post says Santalo is not interested in filing a report or contacting the authorities about the incident at the moment.

“Worry not, I’m going busking again today and after all the support I have received, I am not afraid to sing in Spanish or to speak in Spanish.”

Santalo says he is grateful to have friends from different political backgrounds and walks of life to support him and empower him to fight back.

“We will change the world one guitar strum at a time,” Santalo says in the post. “I’m happy and confident today, proud to be Mexican, proud to be a migrant, proud to call B.C. home. I will #SingOn.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Vanderhoof mayor frustrated over province’s back-and-forth orders over river management

Rio Tinto was asked to suspend their summer temperature management program on Aug 2 and the order was reversed on Aug 8

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Traffic collision on Highway 16

Occupants of the car sustained non-life threatening injuries

Jim Pattison takeover offer ‘non-binding,’ Canfor cautions investors

B.C. billionaire already big shareholder in forest industry

Fashion Fridays: How to dress and feel powerful

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Kraft Heinz brand baby food recalled in B.C. due to possibility of insects

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the product should not be consumed

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action thanked the feds

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Bob Lenarduzzi out as Vancouver Whitecaps president

MLS team is at the bottom of the Western Conference standings

B.C. daycare operator denies negligence in death of ‘Baby Mac’

Infant died in early 2017 after biting an electrical cord, according to a lawsuit filed by his mom

BC SPCA reopens animal cruelty investigation at Abbotsford pig farm

Additional alleged footage released from Excelsior Hog Farm sparks new investigation

Donor upset no one noticed B.C. school’s sculpture had been missing for a year

Agassiz’s Fraser River Lodge owner baffled how theft went undetected

Most Read