Border Patrol Questions 2 US Citizens for Speaking Spanish in Montana

Lawrence Kim
May 22, 2018

Two U.S. citizens at a northern Montana gas station were questioned by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer for speaking Spanish. -Canada border and Suda said there are a lot of Border Patrol agents because of the proximity to Canada.

"We were just talking, and then I was going to pay".

Suda said her 7-year-old daughter was unsure whether they should be speaking Spanish in public anymore after watching the video.

When she finally got home, Suda uploaded the video of her appalling encounter with the Border Patrol agent up on Facebook.

Suda said she asked the man, who identified himself as Agent O'Neal, if she could pay for her items first. That's when a Border Patrol agent asked for identification.

"Ma'am, the reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here, and I saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here", the agent can be heard saying in the video. He denied that he was racially profiling them, telling them that they were speaking Spanish in a predominately English-speaking state.

"It has nothing to do with that", he said.

Suda said she began recording because she was uncomfortable and afraid. "He's like, 'Yes, I'm serious, ' but, you know, with a very authoritative voice".

Although the women showed the officer their IDs, Suda claimed he kept them waiting in the parking lot for about "35 to 40 minutes". "I don't think it's a confrontational [population] here", Suda said.

Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez, two USA citizens, were detained at a gas station in Montana on Wednesday morning for "speaking Spanish".

Both Suda and her friend are US citizens.

Both women are reportedly US citizens, and Suda told The Washington Post she is planning to contact the ACLU in contemplation of a lawsuit against the Border Patrol.

Suda was born in Texas and raised in Mexico. "I don't think that's suspicious".

A representative from U.S. Customs and Border Protection told The Post the agency is reviewing the incident to ensure all appropriate policies were followed. Agents have broader authority when operating within 100 miles of a USA border, such as operating checkpoints and questioning people in their vehicles about their citizenship, but CBP policy also says agents can not stop or detain someone exclusively on their race or ethnicity. "It has nothing to do with that", the agent said.

As part of their work securing borders, they can also "question occupants of vehicles about their citizenship, request document proof of immigration status, and make quick observations of what is in plain view in the interior of the vehicle". Border Patrol agents are trained to decide to question individuals based on a variety of factors, the agency added.

"I was buying eggs".

The woman was not detained but stopped in a consensual encounter, according to a Border Patrol official.

"Border Patrol agents" authority isn't limited just to actual border crossings. She said it wasn't just for her - it was for her daughter and her community as well.

"Here they know you", she said. "It's different after something like this because you start thinking and thinking". Now, Suda said she is planning to take legal action, the Post reported.

That said, it's obviously outrageous for American citizens of Latin descent living within 100 miles of a border to have to constantly prove that they're USA citizens-let alone if it's more than a 30-second flashing of ID.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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