Two Women Were Detained. Their Crime? Speaking Spanish

Illustration of woman looking down, upset expression on her face

Two American women are now suing the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after being detained in Montana last year. The women were speaking Spanish at a convenience store and were approached by a border patrol agent who overheard them. The incident occurred in May 2018.

Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez are both U.S. citizens by birth, living in Havre, Montana. According to court records, the border patrol agent offered no justification for their arrest, and “there was no reason to believe that either Ms. Suda and Ms. Hernandez had violated any law.” Records state that the women were singled out, interrogated and detained.

As defined by the lawsuit, CBP is the “sub-agency of the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is responsible for the initial processing and detention of noncitizens who are apprehended near the U.S. border.”

Suda and Hernandez are suing the CBP for the discriminatory and humiliating treatment they received. Both women are fluent in Spanish and believe that “speaking Spanish keeps them connected to their families, communities, and culture,” said the suit. “It is an important part of their identities as Latinx-Americans.”

According to its Constitution, the United States of America has no official language. Even though English is the language used by most Americans, there is nothing in the Constitution that makes it official.

A report by Instituto Cervantes states that there are more Spanish speakers in the U.S (52.6 million) than in both Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million). Out of all the Spanish speakers living the U.S today, 41 million are native speakers. The report also states that by 2060, it is expected that the U.S will be the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, only behind Mexico.

President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric has created an unfavorable climate not only for immigrants but for U.S citizens that possess a Latin heritage.

Embracing multi-culturalism is not only morally right but also scientifically intelligent. Research shows that there are multiple cognitive benefits to being bi-lingual, including a better performance at conflict management and strengthens cognitive control functions. This sort of event should outline the importance of embracing multi-culturalism, other than repelling it.