Color me surprised that someone driving a late-model pick-up truck with no insurance or tags is considered “suspicious” anywhere South of the Nueces River. Add to suspicions the fact that the suspect was wearing a “Abbott for Governor” t-shirt and you got yourself a new chapter in “Drug Running for Dummies: How Not to Blend in South Texas.”
“I don’t mind that they pulled me over,” said Aaron Peña, a Republican from Edinburg. “I don’t mind that they gave me a ticket. I do mind with great personal offense that they treated me like a drug dealer and accused me of lying.”
I guess Aaron and I have something in common. Back in the late 80s, during my teen years, my big city sister had come to visit Crystal City, TX to help me shop for school clothes. CCTX not having any stores, well, we’d have to trek 39 miles to Uvalde, TX’s K-Mart and Wal-Mart stores.
On the way, just past La Pryor, TX and right before the Uvalde Crossing (Nueces River) a MigraMouse truck ran up behind us and flashed the headlights. My sis being courteous, moves to the right since that’s usually a signal to get out of the way to let them pass. No, instead the Migra tails us and flashes us again. My sis realizes we are about to be stopped. Note: We’re in a 1978 Chevy Malibu station wagon that is fully insured and well-taken care of.
“This is just a routine immigration traffic stop,” said the Migra agent as he looked into the back side window to see if there were any undocumented folks hiding in a plainly clean back area. (My pop did not like a messy car, and I think this is why!)
While his partner walked up to the wagon on the other side., my mom responded in Spanish in a loud tone, “Creen que somos mojaditos?”, using the diminutive term of endearment some South Texans give to immigrants who crossed the river. Halfway to the car, the partner heard Mom, smirked, then turned around and went back to the Migramobile.
The Migra officer at the window, blushing, barely could continue,”Um, are you all American Citizens?” To which we answered, “Yes, sir.” My sis added, “We’re just headed to Uvalde from Crystal City to do some shopping.” To which he responded, “Thanks for your time, you all be careful.”
I guess we looked suspiciously paperless: Two middle-aged working class parents, a teen son, and an adult daughter who was doing the driving. Or maybe they were just bored.
Obviously, South Texas law enforcement has gotten a bit more engaged with folks down there because of the so-called drug war. On top of La Migra and other Homeland Security cops, there are also local law enforcement agencies and other agency “task forces” working. They all want a big “win” in a battle in the war, so, if you look suspicious (however it is defined at a certain moment), well, you may be stopped.
Imagine what will occur when Migra numbers are doubled? That’s if Republicans in the House pass the Senate’s bill.
So, no, this is nothing new, but perhaps it was something new for Aaron Pena. And, apparently, he knew the risks.
Peña was driving a 2001 Dodge pickup he said he had purchased within the previous two weeks. He had planned to drive it home to Edinburg so his son could take it with him when he starts college. Peña had expected to address the vehicle’s expired license plate once he got to South Texas. He had considered the possibility that the plates might get him pulled over but figured he would, if needed, explain to a police officer the situation and risk getting a ticket.
I don’t know, as tech-savvy as the former blogging state representative is, one would figure that one wouldn’t leave the lot without going to GEICO.com or the online app for the insurance “Flo” sells on the TV. Hell, and no plates? I’m sure some of the legwork can be done online, too. I mean, numbers show that Latinos are definitely online, especially by way of our smartphones. We love apps! So, what’s up with driving an uninsured vehicle for two weeks?
Anyway, if you think these are just random stops nowadays, you’re way off. And it’ll get worse.
Driving While Mes’kin in South Texas is already a daily hazard. That it happened to a political turncoat who enjoys cover from the likes of John Cornyn, Greg Abbott, and even the “little brown one” is laughable, though.