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Immigration

Key West chef is asked status, then handed over to Border Patrol, after being stopped by police

Nestor Duarte was driving his car in Key West, Florida, when Monroe sheriff deputy David Lariz pulled him over and asked for his papers. Lariz is the same officer who recently asked a Honduran man who had been hit by a car if he was "illegal."
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6 Jun 2017 – 4:14 PM EDT

MIAMI, Florida. - It could have been just another traffic stop. But when Nestor Alfredo Duarte, a 55-year-old Argentine resident of Key West, Florida, was stopped by a Monroe County police officer for an alleged traffic violation, the man was asked about his immigration status and had to admit that he was undocumented. He was delivered to the Border Patrol.

Duarte is now in a detention center and faces deportation after 16 years in the U.S.

The officer who stopped Duarte is David Lariz, the same sheriff deputy who sparked outrage in the immigrant community just a few weeks ago when he asked about the legal status of a Honduran man who had just been run over by a car, even before offering him assistance or medical attention.

As could happen to the Argentine chef, the Honduran immigrant, Marcos Antonio Huete, is now on the verge of deportation.

The latest incident occurred May 23. Again, everything was recorded on Lariz’s body camera.

"That’s not a driver's license, where'd you get that from?" the officer asks after Duarte hands him an identification card. "Do you have a passport? How long have you been here?" the officer is heard saying in the video, posted on the website of the Key West newspaper The Blue Paper.

In response to the questions, the driver replies that he is a chef at the well-known Cuban restaurant El Siboney in Key West and that, although he has been in the U.S. for 16 years, he has no papers. "I'm illegal," Duarte says quietly. The officer makes him repeat it three times.

"So why don't you have legal documents? Sixteen years you've been in the United States and you haven't bothered to do anything to get anything?" Lariz questions before going to his vehicle. Once there, he calls the county to notify them of the presence of an undocumented person and request that they contact the Border Patrol.

Duarte, who has two children, is now locked up in the Broward detention center where he faces possible deportation to Argentina.

During the 16 years he has been in the United States, Duarte spent 14 years working at El Siboney, where his colleagues describe him as "a person who gets on with things."

"He wants to advance his family and wants to stay in the U.S. working and searching for the American dream," said Gerson Batista, one of his colleagues.


The arrest of the Argentine came just a week after the city's Key West commission signed a resolution urging city cops to refrain from getting involved in immigration issues.

However, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said the decision to call immigration authorities is at the discretion of each officer.

The first incident involving an illegal immigrant in which Lariz was involved generated criticism for the lack of humane treatment of someone involved in an accident, highlighting how this type of action undermines public confidence in the police.

"Once word gets out that law enforcement is really part of President Trump’s mass deportation force that will be the end of cooperation between America’s immigrant communities and local police,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The incident also generated the condemnation of the president of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez.


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