A Border Patrol agent in Montana appeared to admit on video that he wanted to question two women simply because they were speaking Spanish in a predominately English-speaking area. (KRTV via YouTube)
Two women making an early-morning gas station run in northern Montana on Wednesday were apparently questioned at length by a Border Patrol officer simply because they were speaking Spanish.
Ana Suda, 37, who said she was picking up eggs and milk with a friend, began recording the encounter and asked the officer why he had requested their identification in the parking lot.
"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," the officer, who identified himself in the video as “Agent O’Neal,” told the women.
There are no indications in the video that the officer had detained the women, or that the encounter was involuntary. According to Suda, the episode lasted more than thirty minutes.
While the Border Patrol can ordinarily only conduct stops away from the border upon suspicion of a crime, officers are free to have voluntary interactions with individuals, so long as they reasonably understand they are free to go at any time.
Both women are reportedly U.S. citizens, and Suda told The Washington Post she is planning to contact the ACLU in contemplation of a lawsuit against the Border Patrol.
The agency said it will review the incident, which unfolded in Havre, Mont., near the border with Canada, The Post reported.
"I was so embarrassed … being outside in the gas station, and everybody’s looking at you like you’re doing something wrong," Suda told The Post. "I don’t think speaking Spanish is something criminal, you know? My friend, she started crying. She didn’t stop crying in the truck. And I told her, we are not doing anything wrong."
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.