When I first read this I thought, Say WHAT now?” But, apparently, it seems to be true:
Ernestina Mondragon blinked in the glare of TV lights, seated for her news conference among family and friends at a table in the back of Tejano Mexican Restaurant at Davis and Beckley in north Oak Cliff on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking Spanish translated by her daughter, Brenda, and her lawyer, Domingo Garcia, she said she was humiliated Oct. 2 when a Dallas police officer pulled her over for an illegal U-turn and then wrote her a ticket for driving without being able to speak English.
Garcia said Mondragon, 48, has been a legal U.S. resident since 1980.
And hasn’t bothered to learn English in 29 years. Hey – I spent 4 years in Europe and picked up passable German and French –– in only 4 years.
[Her lawyer] and representatives of the League of United Latin American Citizens – including former LULAC national president Hector Flores – called on police to look back 10 years or more to see how many similar tickets have been issued.
On Sunday, Dallas City Council member Steve Salazar thanked the Mondragons for coming forward and also apologized. “Dallas is a diverse city with many languages,” Salazar said. “This was a charge that should not have been in the system.”
Dallas police said Friday that the charge was on a menu in the department’s in-car computers, but it applies only to commercial operators, which means bus, truck and limo drivers. The officer also ticketed her for the U-turn and no driver’s license.
So, it was a clerical error in the system. A law mis-applied to regular operators when commercial drivers were the applicable group.
Brenda Mondragon said her mom has a valid Texas license but she forgot it that day because she was in a hurry to take another daughter, Vanessa, to school.
None of the officers on the traffic stop spoke Spanish. Vanessa was in the car with her mother but wasn’t asked to translate for her.
Like all officers in Texas should speak Spanish? If we’re going to make that rule, shouldn’t all residents of Texas speak both Spanish **AND** English, too?
“I was so scared I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Vanessa, who wants to be a doctor or maybe find a career in criminal justice. She said she is afraid of police officers now because they might stop her mom again.
Uh-huh. Right. Sounds like the mother is the only one with her head screwed on right — doesn’t want to sue, but the daughter is sure making noises like it.
Amazing how far we’ve come in terms of civility and common sense, really.