On early Wednesday morning, Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez went on a midnight run to a convenience store in Montana near the Canadian border. Little did they know, it would be anything but a smooth trip.
Suda was at the gas station speaking Spanish with Hernandez when they were stopped by a Border Patrol agent.
“We were just talking, and then I was going to pay,” Suda told The Washington Post. “I looked up [and saw the agent], and then after that, he just requested my ID. I looked at him like, ‘Are you serious?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, very serious,'”
Suda recorded a video of the entire interaction for her own safety.
“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 is heard saying in the video.
When Suda asked him if they were being racially profiled, the agent said no, it has nothing to do with that.
“It’s the fact that it has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store, in a state where it’s predominantly English-speaking,” he said.
Suda was born in El Paso but raised in Mexico. She’s spent the majority of her life moving around the U.S. with her husband and daughter. Hernandez is from central California. While Suda explained all of this to the agent, he kept them in his truck for 35 to 40 minutes.
A representative from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection told The Washington Post that the agency is “reviewing the incident to ensure all appropriate policies were followed.”
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and officers are committed to treating everyone with professionalism, dignity and respect while enforcing the laws of the United States,” the agency said. “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.”
Suda said she plans to contact the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for legal guidance. While the ACLU did not return The Washington Post‘s request for comment on Sunday, the organization did recently tweet a response, saying the officer’s actions were illegal.