“We were arrested for speaking Spanish. Perhaps this will change our lives forever. My daughter will be afraid to speak Spanish in public places,” one of the detained women said.
On Thursday evening, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the arrest of two women, who spoke Spanish at the store. Martha “Mimi” Hernandez and Ana Suda were detained after the Border Patrol agent heard their Spanish conversation in a Montana store. NBC News reports that the incident was recorded on camera in the store. According to the lawsuit, Paul O’Neal "detained and interrogated two women who spoke in Spanish."
“We were shocked, because we didn’t violate the laws. Paul O’Neal just detained us and began to interrogate us. We can't speak Spanish?” said Ana Suda.
The lawsuit also said that the Border Patrol agent violated women's rights and discriminated against race. The statement also said that the incident injured women and violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search. Now, women are afraid that they will be persecuted by other residents of Montana.
“I understand the detention of criminals, who violated the law, but we didn’t do bad things. We just talked in the store. This arrest will change our lives forever. After this incident, my daughter will be afraid to speak Spanish in school and at home,” one of the women said .
Women also insist on depriving the Border Patrol of the possibility of detaining people on the basis of race or "Spanish" without evidence of violation of the law. The victims also claim damages.
“We just wanted to buy milk and bread. Paul O’Neal heard our conversation and asked where and when we were born. After that, I said 'Are you serious?'" Ana Suda told NBC News after the incident.
According to the video captured in the store, O’Neal asked the women to provide identity cards as they spoke Spanish and it was strange for Montana.
"I clarified the reason for our interrogation, but the agent said that this is due to the fact that we speak Spanish in an English-speaking state," Hernandez said.
The women also said that the interrogation lasted about 40 minutes. According to the lawsuit, Hernandez was born in California and Suda in the Spanish-speaking city of Texas. Further investigation will establish the reason for the detention of women and the actions of the Border Patrol agent.
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