A U.S. Customs and Border Protection employee in a heavily Latino Texas border town came under fire this week after putting out a sign on Halloween saying candy was only for Americans.
The sign, which read "Solo las familias Americanas recibiran dulces" -- or only American family will get candy -- was hung in a housing complex in Presidio where many CBP employees reside, according to Big Bend Now.
The sign drew attention, and an apology from CBP officials.
"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," CBP spokesman Bill Brooks said in a statement. "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."
Presidio is nearly 94 percent Latino, according to 2010 Census figures, with most Latinos identifying as being of Mexican origin. The city also has a relationship with Ojinaga, Chihuahua, its far bigger sister city across the border. Ojinaga has a population of more than 26,000, while the Census count puts Presidio's population under 4,500.
Presidio Mayor John Ferguson condemned the CBP employee's sign on Sunday, saying residents should welcome visitors, especially since Ojinaga residents have been welcoming of them.
Residents and advocates were quick to criticize the sign. Mohammad Abdollahi of the San Antonio-based immigrant rights group RAICES said the "incident just highlights problems in the culture of CBP as an institution," and linked the attitude with agents who abuse immigrants.
"This attitude is very worrisome and prevalent within CBP agents," he said in an email.