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 busking 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 unkown 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.”

Santalo did hear from the police following the incident.

“We reached out to Fernando to ensure that he was safe and to invite him to report the incident to us,” said Bowen Osoko, VicPD spokesperson in an emailed statement. “He did tell me he felt greatly supported by the outpouring of concern from his fellow Victorians.”

VicPD added that the police should be called if anybody is in a situation where they feel threatened.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rare white orca spotted hunting off shores of Alaska for first time

Tl’uk seems healthy and strong, says researcher

Mental health challenges add to youth stress load

Part 2 in a Black Press series on Youth Homelessness

Langford bike park rolling along to completion

New park a tribute to Jordie Lunn’s legacy

Saanich council to dig into long-awaited garden suite study

Detached suites keep families close, provide financial flexibility, mayor says

Oak Bay council places 60-day protection order on Island Road house

Developer pulled heritage agreement over ‘exorbitant’ $417,000 fees

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read