Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez, both U.S. citizens born in the state of Texas, were standing in line at a grocery store in Havre, Montana conversing with each other in Spanish – as they presumed they have the right to do in a supposedly free country. But apparently in the current Trumpian era, when everything seen as being less than 100% Anglo-Saxon is seen as “illegal” and anyone presumed to be an immigrant is derided as an “animal”, speaking Spanish is some sort of crime worthy of being detained.
The two women were waiting in line with egg and milk speaking to each other when suddenly an ICE agent approached them and told them to show documentation proving their American citizenship. “Are you serious,” Ana Suda asked the agent in disbelief. “Very serious,” he barked back. The ICE agent, who identified himself as Agent O’Neal, said his reason for demanding the women give him their IDs was because they spoke Spanish. This he thought made them appear suspicious, and because of that they were detained for more than half-an-hour in the parking lot, even after they’d showed him their IDs. Ana Suda couldn’t believe what was happening and so she questioned the ICE agent about why they were being detained. “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.” As far as agent O’Neal engaging in racial profiling, “It has nothing to do with that.” (So he says.) “It’s the fact that is has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store – in a state where it’s predominantly, English-speaking.”
Suda is worried about the effect this terrible incident of racial profiling is having on her seven year old daughter, who asked her mother after seeing footage of the incident, “Mom, we can’t speak Spanish anymore?” Suda does not want her daughter to be ashamed of her heritage. “You be proud. You are smart. You speak two languages.” She is right that her daughter should be proud. At 7 years of age she is bilingual, something most other Americans won’t be able to accomplish in their entire lives.
As for what the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has to say about how its own agent profiled and detained two U.S. citizens? They simply announced they were “reviewing the incident” in order to ensure “”all appropriate policies were followed.” If the agency cannot come out and say upfront that such line of questioning for no reason is against their policies, one has to wonder what kind of agency they are truly running in the first place.