A woman is accusing US Border Patrol of racially profiling her and a friend after he stopped them for speaking Spanish.
Ana Suda says she will be taking legal action following the incident, which occurred at a shop in Havre, Montana, near the Canadian border.
In the evening, Suda and her friend Mimi Hernandez had gone to get some eggs and milk from the petrol station and were speaking in Spanish as they waited in the queue to pay.
At that point, a uniformed patrol agent came over and asked for their ID.
They are both US citizens.
Suda told Washington Post:
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.'
They went outside in the parking area, at which point she began recording the encounter on her phone, and when she asked him why he was detaining them, he said:
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.
He denies racially profiling the two women and insists it was just because “you guys [are] speaking Spanish in a store, in a state where it’s predominately English-speaking”.
Suda claims he kept them outside for up to 40 minutes and the encounter left them both shaken.
I was so embarrassed ... being outside in the gas station and everybody's looking at you like you're doing something wrong. I don't think speaking Spanish is something criminal, you know?
My friend, she started crying. She didn't stop crying in the truck. And I told her, we are not doing anything wrong.
She shared her experience on Facebook, where she said:
Border patrol just stopped us because We were speaking Spanish inside of a store...
I recorded him admitting that he stop us just because were speaking Spanish, no other reason.
Remember do NOT speak Spanish sounds like is illegal 😒
Suda added that as a result of the incident, her seven-year-old daughter asked her if they should speak Spanish in public.
The US Customs and Border Protection issued the following statement last week to MTN News:
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.
H/T Washington Post