U.S.-born Latina harassed by border agent for speaking Spanish says she's received hate mail
One of the two Montana women who are suing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after they were illegally targeted by an out-of-control immigration agent for speaking Spanish in their small town of 10,000 said that while the entire incident lasted just under 45 minutes, “the consequences from it continue to this day.”
“After the video of the stop was picked up by the news,” Ana Suda writes, “Mimi and my families have been harassed repeatedly for speaking out. We received hateful messages from people across the country, but the worst was what happened in our own town, a place I considered home. At his high school, a teacher asked Mimi’s son whether he had brought his ID to class. My 8-year-old daughter is scared to speak Spanish and has started responding to me in English when I ask her questions.”
“Now when I go out to run errands,” she continues, “I consciously try to leave my kids at home, in case someone will start yelling at me or even physically attack me.” The harassment has also frightened other Spanish-speaking Latinx neighbors in their town of Havre, who have approached both women to say that they’re now fearful that speaking Spanish in public—or even just the way they look—could also get them harassed.
It’s also a reason why the two women have decided to sue following their harassment at the hands of agent Paul O’Neal. ”I know this is an important fight—not just for Latinx people, but for any community that CBP views with suspicion,” she said, noting that Native American communities there have been incredibly supportive. Hernandez added that a friend told her, “Oh, they picked the wrong person.” She said she replied, “No, they picked the right person, the person who’s going to stand up for the next one.”