Xenophobic border patrol agent detains two women after hearing them speak Spanish
A Montana border patrol agent detained and questioned two American citizens after he merely overheard them speaking to each other in Spanish at a gas station. Early Wednesday morning, the two women, Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez, were making a midnight trip to a convenience store near the Montana border to Canada in Havre when they were approached by a uniformed border patrol agent.
Suda tells The Washington Post “We were just talking, and then I was going to pay,” Suda continued, “I looked up [and saw the agent], and then after that, he just requested my ID. I looked at him like, ‘Are you serious?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, very serious.’ ”
Afterward, in the parking lot, Suda began recording her encounter with the border patrol agent when she started to feel uncomfortable, she says. Suda can be heard in the video asking the agent why they were being detained, and the racist officer actually admits that it’s only because he overheard Suda and Hernandez speaking to each other in Spanish.
“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 officer begins before Suda asks him if they are being racially profiled. Like every other racist, he denies being racist: “It has nothing to do with that,” the agent tells her. “It’s the fact that it has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store, in a state where it’s predominantly English-speaking.”
Even though Suda explained that she was born in El Paso, Texas and was raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and has spent much of her adult life moving around the United States with her husband, and Hernandez explained that she was from central California originally, the agent still kept the pair in the parking lot for another 35 or 40 minutes.
The ACLU was contacted by Suda for advice on what to do after this instance, and on Monday they released a statement:
There’s citizens whose first language isn’t English or who are limited in English and that doesn’t mean they are committing an immigration offense,” according to Astrid Dominguez, director of the ACLU’s Border Rights Center. “The constitution prohibits racially profiling. You need to have reasonable suspicion [of an offense before detaining someone] and speaking Spanish isn’t one of them.
This kind of aggressive over-policing stems from the rather broad range that the border patrol has, and the only real guideline is that they can’t initiate stops without reasonable suspicion of a violation or a crime. Additionally, the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions wishes to criminally prosecute 100 percent of people who cross borders illegally, which could definitely serve as an impetus to ramp up activity from the border patrol, even if such actions are not completely legal.
At the southwest border, these directives result in more immigrant children being separated from their parents, and in Montana, they seem to have resulted in the egregious detaining of two American citizens.
Video of the encounter is below: