Havre, MT — Ana Suda and Martha “Mimi” Hernandez are both U.S. born citizens who grew up in Texas and California respectively. But their lifelong citizenship and complete lack of criminal record would have no bearing on a US Border patrol agent hell bent on taking 'dangerous' Spanish speaking women off the streets of Havre, Montana. Now, because no one was held accountable for their unlawful detainment, the taxpayers of Montana will be held responsible instead.
Hernandez and Suda settled for an undisclosed monetary settlement in the lawsuit they filed last year. The Border Patrol refused to admit fault in the case.
In settling the case, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it did not admit liability and added in a statement that “the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe.”
As TFTP reported, the incident happened on May 18, 2018, as Suda and Hernandez stood in line at a local grocery store. The two ladies were having a friendly conversation—in Spanish—an entirely legal and common activity which takes place in most grocery stores everyday in this country. However, the Border Patrol Agent in line behind them, saw their conversation as nefarious. He just knew they were evil criminal scum.
As the two innocent US citizens checked out at the register, this "hero" public servant demanded to know where they were born. Remember, they had done nothing wrong and were simply speaking Spanish. Still, Suda and Hernandez complied and told the officer they were born in Texas and California. But he did not believe them.
The agent then demanded the two women hand over their driver's licenses which were apparently not enough to get them immediately on their way. The two innocent US citizens were then held against their will—otherwise known as kidnapping—by US Border Patrol Agents who completely humiliated them in front of their friends and neighbors.
"After Mimi and I told the officer that we were born in the U.S.," Suda explained. "he demanded that we show identification. I didn’t feel like I could say no since he was in uniform and armed. We gave him our Montana driver’s licenses and then followed him outside into the store’s parking lot as directed. "
During their illegal detainment, Suda and Hernandez were interrogated as if they were criminals. The scene is something akin to the era of "papers please" as these entirely innocent women were temporarily kidnapped and forced to prove they weren't "illegal" human beings who should be shipped off to some 'camp'.
Had they been "illegal," the stop was still unconstitutional as speaking Spanish is most assuredly not probable cause for detainment. Even if a person speaks no English at all, the state cannot detain them for it.
Nevertheless, this tyrant agent had no problem telling the women why he had taken them into custody. When Suda and Hernandez asked him why they were being humiliated and interrogated, the officer responded with brutal honesty.
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Suda explained that, "Agent O’Neal — the name on his badge — got on his car radio and asked for backup, as if two moms holding a carton of eggs were a threat. As we stood there, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. I told him that I was going to start filming on my cell phone. Then I made a simple request, 'Can you tell us in video why you asked for our ID’s please.'"
"He said it was because, 'You guys are speaking Spanish which is very unheard of up here,'" said Suda. This is confirmed on the video.
For nearly an hour, Suda and Hernandez were held captive as other armed agents showed up in their uniforms and carrying guns—to investigate two American soccer moms—a shameful act indeed.
Suda and Hernandez' case is now finally settled, hopefully leading to change inside the organization which illegally detains people for speaking Spanish.
“We stood up to the government because speaking Spanish is not a reason to be racially profile and harassed,” Suda said in a statement provided by the ACLU. “I am proud to be bilingual, and I hope that as a result of this case CBP takes a hard look at its policies and practices. No one else should ever have to go through this again.”
Sadly, for speaking out about the incident, Suda and Hernandez say that they've been harassed repeatedly and have received hateful messages from people across the country.
Their children are even feeling the effects of this disgusting madness.
"At his high school, a teacher asked Mimi’s son whether he had brought his ID to class. My 8-year-old daughter is scared to speak Spanish and has started responding to me in English when I ask her questions," said Suda.
Below is this most infuriating and saddening video.