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Montana Border Patrol agent caught on camera interrogating two U.S. citizens for speaking Spanish

May 23, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Montana Border Patrol agent  caught on camera interrogating two U.S. citizens for speaking Spanish

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Footage capture moment Border Patrol agent detains two U.S. Citizens for speaking Spanish

Controversial footage shows a Border Patrol agent questioning two U.S. citizens about their immigration status outside a convenience store in Montana, because he heard them speaking Spanish as they were paying for their items inside.

The incident took place in the early hours of Wednesday after Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez went to the store to buy eggs and milk for their children at a gas station convenience store in Havre, roughly 30 miles south of the Canadian border.

As they were paying, the two women were speaking Spanish when they were eavesdropped by a Border Patrol agent, who stopped them and requested to see their ID.

“He asked where I was born, I looked at him said, ‘Are you serious?’ He’s, like, ‘Yes, I’m serious,” but with a very authoritative voice,'” Suda said to KVIA.

Suda added that she asked the man, who referred to himself as Agent O’Neal if she could purchase her items first.

“He’s like, ‘No, give me your I.D,'” she recounted. So she said she would give him her ID, but wanted to get her phone out of her vehicle so she could tape their interaction.

The video begin after she has retrieved her cell phone.

“M’am, the reason I asked for your I.D. is because I saw that you guys were speaking Spanish which is very unheard of up here,” the agent said.

‘It’s the fact it has to do with you speaking Spanish in the store ― in a state where it’s predominantly English-speaking.”

Suda said she was appalled that he could stop her just for talking in Spanish.

Both Suda and her friend are United States citizens. Suda was born in El Paso, Texas but spent her childhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Hernandez is from Central California, and was a bit more shocked by the encounter. Both now reside in Montana.

“She asked ‘why is this happening? What did we do? Because we said something in Spanish?’ It’s embarrassing. People look at you like you did something wrong,” Suda continued.

Even after giving the agent their IDs, Suda said the agent held them up for roughly 35 minutes.

After the recording went viral last week, the Border Patrol issued the following statement:

“Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the border area, agents have law enforcement authorities and are not limited to a geography within the United States. They have the power to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.”

They added that they will be investigating the incident.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Suda, whose husband worked as a probation officer with the Montana Department of Corrections, said she would be speaking to the ACLU for legal assistance with filing a suit over the incident.

“I don’t want this to happen,” Suda said to the Post. “I want people to know they have the right to speak whatever language they want. I think that’s the most important part, to help somebody else.”

She continued that she was most bothered by her seven-year-old daughter’s reaction to the footage and said she had never dealt with anything like that in the state before.

“When she saw, she was like, ‘Mom, we can’t speak Spanish anymore?’” Suda stated. “I said “No. Be proud. You are smart. You speak two languages.’ This is for her.'”

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