Sparta Report

Why are a cop and a good citizen being punished for doing the right thing?

A cop does his job, busts an illegal alien and ends up on the unemployment line.

A citizen does his duty, reports potential terrorism to the authorities and ends up needing to get a restraining order and hide out to avoid retribution.

Your daily dose of bitter coffee and curdled cream care of The Red StarTribune:

“Are you here illegally?”


A man questioned by a Metro Transit officer about his immigration status while riding the light rail this month, a scene captured in a video viewed more than a million times, was deported.

A volunteer attorney filed a request Thursday to reopen the man’s removal case, arguing he was not aware he might have options to stay when he signed off his right to a hearing before an immigration judge. The man, Ariel Vences-Lopez, was arrested by Metro Transit police May 14 on suspicion of fare evasion, obstructing the legal process and providing a false name. He was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities. A video of a transit officer asking about his immigration status on the light rail’s Blue Line went viral.

Attorneys are also weighing a formal complaint about the handling of the case by the officer, who has since resigned.

Immigrant advocates have rallied around Vences-Lopez’s case, which they say illustrates the uncertainty those living in the state illegally face in interacting with authorities. Attorneys sought out the man in immigration detention over the holiday weekend and offered to represent him pro bono.

“There are a lot of people in the community who want to support him because of how unfair they feel his arrest was,” said Danielle Robinson Briand, his attorney.

An ICE spokesman said the agency could not comment on the requests to block Vences-Lopez’s deportation and reopen his case before reviewing the documents. The agency had previously said the man’s deportation was imminent after a judge signed a final order of removal later in May.

“I am extremely fearful.”


Abdullah Al Rifahe

The restraining order was filed this week against Majid Al Rifahe, who was arrested with his brother, Abdullah Al Rifahe, about 5 p.m. May 11 after the men threatened a passerby who confronted them for littering. Inside the men’s car, officers found a hand grenade, handgun, assault rifles and magazines and a large quantity of ammunition, according to a criminal complaint against the brothers. They also found cellphones, computers and electronics equipment, including drone parts.

Joe Tamburino, the attorney who is representing the good Samaritan on the restraining order pro bono, also plans to get a similar action against Abdullah Al Rifahe. Tamburino said he can’t understand why there isn’t more public outrage over what he called a very serious case.

“If this happened in New York City, it would be national news,” he said. “Instead, we have radio silence.”

The local offices of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security referred questions to the Minneapolis Police Department, which is part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. In a statement, Chief Janeé Harteau lauded the passerby and officers, “whose great work led to our awareness of a potential threat and the original arrests.”

With apologies to the movie Chinatown“Forget about it Jake. It’s Minneapolistan.”

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