Women in Montana Arrested for Speaking Spanish

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.

ICE Agent O'Neal
Agent O’Neal

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.

23 thoughts

  1. In Montana, the state with a Spanish name. Anyway, I am quite sure speaking Spanish is covered under freedom of speech. You know what else? In my travels around the world, I have noticed that you can hear English, even American English, anywhere. But it is only when you start hearing Spanish in the airport that you know you’re back in the States…

  2. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. I’ve heard Montana has become a refuge for a lot of open racists recently. It’s not just the South where bigotry is this overt. Shame on them for persecuting that family for speaking Spanish.

      1. No disagreements there. I actually think it’s cool when people know more than one language and I want to learn more.

        You may have heard this joke before: What do you call someone who knows three or more languages? A Polyglot. What do you call someone who knows two languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who only knows one language? American.

            1. Being American-born myself i am unfortunately one of those who can’t speak anything but English. 😫 even though I took Spanish and Latin in school I didn’t really learn a thing.

              1. Don’t feel bad. I didn’t learn another language until I was in high school when I took some Japanese classes at a community college. Okay, I was a hardcore anime fan and that was the main reason at the time. To be honest, I’ve gotten rusty with it. I do want to learn other languages though.

              1. Yup. I still like some of it and I got back into anime a little bit a couple of years ago even if I mainly watch the older lesser-known things. Hahaha! One of my blogs actually is a review page for obscure movies, foreign films, anime, and docs.

  3. To create fascism, US government seems to create its own whistleblower citizens. What is the law about this situation in US? So, an American citizen who speaks Spanish or another language has not got right to go to law when he/she is threatened like by that man?

    I think that those were threatened in this way, so with “I am calling The ICE”, should apply to court, if the constitution has not got a item such as “any language other than English, cannot be allowed in the country”; and the court will make a decision and even punish him. Then this decision can be distributed to all citizens via the internet, through the media, etc, as it is an epitomist example. If anybody is threatened again, this will be dissuasive.

    1. Well that would make way too much sense! Therefore it won’t be put into action. And ICE agents love to abuse their power and people like the man making the threats in the last video are well aware of that.

  4. WTF! Here in Singapore we have four official languages, English, Mandarin, Malay (Bahasa) and Tamil, and to be a citizen you are required to speak any one of them. But if you speak another or others apart from one of those four you are ENCOURAGED to do so, not punished in any way; we treasure diversity.

    1. And the crazy part is that these english-only demanders say “this is America. Speak English.” Well it’s not England either so why should anyone be forced to speak English?

  5. This is just absolutely ridiculous! We are most definitely living in a ‘police state’ and we just acquiesce to everything that is thrown at us from being detained without benefit of counsel, radiated before being able to board a plane, a mandatory national ID, Gestapo type cops with militarized weaponry from war zones and now, “Papers, please!” for speaking Spanish. This should be quite unheard of and yet, I am not surprised in the least.

    I guess millions more of us will have to be incarcerated before people sit up and take notice, and even then, it will be too late to do anything about everything! Ever the apathetic and complacent ones, we Americans are!

    1. I think it’s because too much of the American citizenry think and act just like these racist cops and gestapo ICE agents. And they have all the power and weapons it appears.

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