GREAT FALLS – Two U.S. citizens were stopped and questioned by a U.S. Border Patrol agent early Wednesday morning for speaking Spanish at a gas station in Havre, and they caught the interaction on tape.
Ana Suda – who was born in Texas and now lives in Havre – stopped with a friend at a Town Pump store to buy milk and eggs. They were speaking Spanish when the agent asked them for their documents.
Suda said she paid for her items, gave the agent her identification, and she started recording video of the incident in the parking lot.
When Suda asked why he wanted to see their identification, the agent said, "Ma’am, the reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here and saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here."
Suda says they are still in shock that this happened.
Suda told MTN News: "My family was asking me, because my family is still in Texas, and they were asking me, how is Montana about this? I said I have never had a problem before. I say Montana is perfect. I love the people here, the people are so nice. It is nicer than other states. I cannot believe this happened."
Suda said that the officer let them leave after about 35 minutes.
The officer identified himself as Agent O’Neal in the video, and said that his actions were not racially-motivated.
U.S. Customs & Border Protection sent the following statement to MTN News: “Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, agents have broad law enforcement authorities and are not limited to a specific geography within the United States. They have the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.”