Two women were detained last week by a U.S. Border Patrol agent after he overheard them speaking Spanish at a gas station in Havre, Montana. Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez, both legal residents, were purchasing milk and eggs and were chatting in Spanish when the patrol agent began questioning them. Suda began filming the incident and caught the patrol agent saying, “The reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here and saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.”
Here’s the video of the border patrol agent telling two women they were questioned and detained because they were “speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of” in Montana.
Two women in Montana went to a convenience store to get milk & eggs and were detained/questioned by a Border Patrol agent… wait for it… just because they were speaking Spanish. He admits it on video. He humiliated innocent women by treating them like criminals. So wrong. pic.twitter.com/ekEgzhQam6
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) May 21, 2018
The women paid for their items and then were asked to give their ID’s to the patrol agent for identification. One of the women can be heard saying that their detainment was racial profiling because they were speaking Spanish.
“I was so embarrassed being outside in the gas station, and everybody’s looking at you like you’re doing something wrong,” Suda told The Washington Post. “I don’t think speaking Spanish is something criminal, you know?”
The video has caught the attention of civil liberties groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who are questioning the incident.
Speaking Spanish is not a valid reason for Border Patrol to question or detain you.
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 21, 2018
Havre, Montana, is about 35 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border. The city is within the 100-mile zone that Border Patrol can use to conduct immigration checkpoints. Yet according to the ACLU website, border patrol agents “cannot pull anyone over without ‘reasonable suspicion’ of an immigration violation or crime.” According to The Washington Post, Suda plans to take legal action against the agency.
The incident sparked outrage on social media.
Is it worth pointing out that the name of the state of Montana comes from the Spanish montaña, taken from early Spanish explorers’ descriptions of the region? I’m sure they cover that in Border Patrol school. https://t.co/i0POJYvXJA
— John Alba Cutler (@jalbacutler) May 21, 2018
U.S. Customs & Border Protection sent the following statement to a local Montana News Station regarding the detainment.
“Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, agents have broad law enforcement authorities and are not limited to a specific geography within the United States. They have the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.”
This story comes less than a week after New York attorney Aaron Schlossberg went on a rant about people speaking Spanish.
who cares about that racist nyc lawyer, it's crying wolf w/ nothing there.
this is the fucking threat. this is where outrage should go.
how can a border patrol agent accost and detain US citizens for shopping while speaking spanish in fucking MONTANA?https://t.co/pIkmd4Bq8I
— zizou (@senorchungo) May 20, 2018
Many are questioning the reasoning behind the detainment and if this is just another example of racial profiling in the United State that has become quite common recently. Last week a New York attorney went on a racist rant that went viral after he was angered by employees and customers speaking Spanish. Hopefully this doesn’t become the new norm in America where speaking multiple languages should be celebrated not deemed a threat.