U.S. Citizens Settle Lawsuit After Being Detained by Border Patrol for Speaking Spanish in Montana

Screen grab of Border Patrol agent detaining Ana Suda and Martha “Mimi” Hernandez.

By Steve Neavling

Two U.S. citizens who were detained by Border Patrol at a convenience store in Montana for speaking Spanish have reached a settlement in a lawsuit they filed against the Trump administration. 

Ana Suda and Martha “Mimi” Hernandez alleged in the lawsuit that their constitutional rights were violated when the agents detained them for 40 minutes in the parking lot of the store. According to the suit, they were standing in line to pay for groceries when a Border Patrol agent asked where the women were born and demanded their identifications. They both turned over valid Montana drivers licenses. 

Although there was no evidence they violated a law, the agent detained them while they filmed the incident. 

“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,” the agent said in the video. 

“We stood up to the government because speaking Spanish is not a reason to be racially profiled and harassed,” Suda said in a news release from the ACLU of Montana, which filed the lawsuit. “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.”

As part of the settlement, CBP did not admit liability. 

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