A viral video of a Montana border patrol agent stopping two women who are US citizens has sparked controversy.
Wednesday, Ana Suda, and Mimi Hernandez were speaking in Spanish as they went to buy groceries when they were stopped by a border patrol agent who identified himself as Agent O’Neill.
The agent reportedly asked Suda and Hernandez if they were born in the U.S. and when one of the women replied with the question “Are you serious,” they were taken outside.
The agent then asked for their identification resulting in them exiting to the parking lot of the store.
One of the women then began recording the incident in which the agent admits to stopping the two ladies because they spoke Spanish.
The agent took the two woman’s I.D’s for 30-45 minutes before returning them and letting them go, according to reports.
Suda claims she was racially profiled, and the incident has sparked controversy over whether the stop was racially motivated.
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement about the incident saying:
Agents and officers “are committed to treating everyone with professionalism, dignity, and respect while enforcing the laws of the United States,” the spokesperson 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.”
Agents have the “authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence,” the spokesperson added. “Decisions to question individuals are based on a variety of factors for which Border Patrol agents are well-trained.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also spoke out about the incident via Twitter:
Speaking Spanish is not a valid reason for Border Patrol to question or detain you. tweet
The employment status of Agent O’Neill remains unclear at this time.
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