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)

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

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

Just Posted

The regional jobs picture has improved. (Innovate Impact Media/Creative Commons photo)
Northwest unemployment rate dips again

Is now second lowest of any region in B.C.

Cedar Valley Lodge, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the LNG Canada Project site in Kitimat. The most recent outbreak among workers at the project site was just declared over. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Second COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site declared over

The outbreak was first declared on Dec. 16, 2020

The first of two massive turbines headed from Prince Rupert for the Site C Dam near Fort St. John on Jan 10. (Photo: Supplied by Tasha McKenzie)
Massive turbines begin trek across Northwestern B.C.

Turbines headed from Prince Rupert to Site C Dam to cause traffic delays week of Jan. 10 to 14

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read