Montana women detained for speaking Spanish

Speaking Spanish In The United States Is Not A Crime

No, English is not the official language of the United States.


Many bilingual people in the United States have been told the phrase, "Speak English! This is America!" or something of the sort. That mentality is what led to two Mexican-American women being detained by a border patrol agent.

Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez went to a gas station in Havre, Montana and were having a conversation in Spanish as they were buying eggs and milk. This was supposedly so suspicious that a border patrol agent, named Agent O'Neill, decided to stop and question them. He asked them where they were born and Suda was taken aback by the question so she asked him if he was serious, to which he responded, "I'm very serious."

The conversation was then taken to the parking lot of the gas station and the agent asked the women for their identification. As Suda recorded the encounter on her cell phone, she asked O'Neill what his reasoning was for asking them for their IDs and he stated,

"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."

Obviously, his excuse makes absolutely no sense because hearing someone speak a language other than English does not mean that they are an immigrant. Suda also recognized how ridiculous his justification was and asked O'Neill if she was being racially profiled, but he said,

"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."

Many Americans tend to equate being American with speaking English and that is why another common phrase told to someone not speaking English is "Speak American!" However, English is not the official language of the United States. There is no official language. This is a fact that many people tend to gloss over because they want to use the English language as a weapon against someone who either does not know the language or was not speaking it at the time. English is typically associated with whiteness and when some people hear a language other than English being spoken in the United States, they see it as not only an attack on the language but also an attack on white people.

Agent O'Neill may have felt annoyed or uncomfortable hearing Suda and Hernandez speaking Spanish in a state where English is mainly spoken, so he attempted to prove that the women were undocumented immigrants as a way to justify his annoyance. He ended up finding out that the two women were actually U.S. citizens. O'Neill then handed them back their documentation and told them they were free to go after keeping them in the gas station parking lot for about 35 to 40 minutes.

One of the most upsetting parts of the entire encounter is that when Suda's daughter saw the video of the agent questioning her and Hernandez, her daughter asked, "Does that mean we can't speak Spanish anymore?' That's very sad." Nobody should ever be made to feel ashamed of their heritage.

Being fluent in more than one language should be celebrated, not hidden. Suda told her daughter that she is intelligent for being fluent in two languages and that she should be proud of it. She then explained why she gave that response to her daughter and said,

"I want her to know she can speak Spanish in whatever place she wants and nothing happens and no one is going to stop her just because she speaks Spanish."

The conversation that Suda had with her daughter inspired her to reach out to the American Civil Liberties Union to see if anything could be done about her experience with Agent O'Neill. So far, they have tweeted their support.

Cover Image Credit:

Jose Moreno

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Striking A Balance Between Life And Your Priorities

Just here sharing the struggle of being a college student basically "adulting" for the first time while also providing tips on how I am handling it all.


Being a college student is hard enough, but throw in having a part-time job, participating in extracurriculars, going to the gym, having a social life all on top of keeping your grades up? Seems like there is not enough time in the day.

As a second semester freshman, the fall was a much different experience compared to what I have on my plate now. I had much less responsibility then because I didn't have a part-time job, was not as active in my sorority and did not feel the need to go to the gym.

I essentially just needed to worry about classes, making friends, and adjusting to college life. While I liked having more time and freedom on my hands, I felt like I was not as independent as I should be at this age while also feeling like I was not utilizing all Arizona State University had to offer. I felt like I was not getting the full college experience.

So now here I am, working at In-N-Out Burger, trying to gain a leadership position in my sorority, semi-regularly going to the gym to keep my wellness intact and making sure I do well in school all while maintaining a relationship and spending quality time with my friends.

All this does not sound like a lot, but it sure feels like it is especially with financial burdens being the cherry on top of my priorities. However, managing this mountain of stress can be done with hard-work and tedious planning.

Here are a few things I do in order to keep sane, stay healthy and excel in all my tasks given to me while keeping those important to me close:

Keep a Planner

I know this is cliche and not everyone feels like they are the "planner type" of person, but they are so helpful with staying on top of your life. Planners help you stay organized when it comes to writing down what school work needs to be done, what events are coming up, when deadlines are approaching and can also be utilized as a space to write down your personal goals you want to achieve during the week or month.

You don't even have to buy a physical planner, I currently use Google Calendar where I have most of the semester mapped out in terms of when assignments are due, exam dates, and days I am going to be on vacation. What is most helpful with having an electronic calendar is that you can see what assignments and tests overlap with each other all on one screen. Both physical planners and electronic calendars are efficient with keeping you on track, it just comes down to whatever is a better fit for you and your organizational preference.

Study and Do your Assignments Ahead of Time

Not waiting to do your homework the night before (or in some cases the night of) it is due? A concept. This is where the tedious planning comes in because it is so incredibly easy to forget about one small homework assignment in the midst of the business of your week. I used to be the person that would wait to the last minute to do my assignments, but that's when I had time. If I did that now, I would literally not be able to submit the assignment because I could possibly work from 5 P.M. to midnight that night, when would I do it then?

Doing your assignment a few days before is such a stress reliever and allows more time during the week to do the things you like to do, like hang out with your friends or workout at the gym. This is made much easier if you have a planner where you could see what events you have to attend that week along with what days you're scheduled to work.

With all that laid out, you can allocate time where you can crank out your homework and set up study times that are ideal for your schedule. Plus, staying ahead can help you do better on exams and help you feel like you actually know what the professor is talking about during the lecture. I am taking statistics right now and I have never performed well in math courses, especially at the college level.

What has helped me so far feel less confused about the material is doing my math homework before lecture, teaching it to myself, and essentially treating lecture as a review and knowledge check of what I taught myself a few days before. Break out of the habit of procrastination, it works wonders.

Limit your Work Schedule

If you're like me, having a job is bittersweet. I take pride that I am mostly financially independent and like not having to ask my parents for money, however having a job can be tiring and can feel like it's interrupting your social life. Also having a customer service job, like In-N-Out Burger, teaches you to respect food and retail workers because I feel like customers often forget that the employees behind the cash register are people too and deserve to be treated as such.

Anyway, while I do love getting a fat paycheck every two weeks, limiting how many days you work is just as rewarding. Money isn't everything, and having it in excess is great, but working just as much as you need in order to support yourself is enough because if you work more than that while also being a full-time student will destroy you physically and mentally over time. Most jobs are accommodating and will schedule you according to your availability, so you basically get to choose when you work around your school priorities and pick what days you have off to enjoy for yourself.

Personally, at In-N-Out, I allowed myself to work maximum three days a week and gave them a total of four days for them to choose from unto when I can work. Over the weekends, I chose to have Sundays off so I can use that as my day to study, relax, or go do something fun for the day. During the week, I work night shifts that don't interfere with my school schedule and I chose days where if I work late that night, my class the next day is not scheduled during the early morning.

Working itself is exhausting and can feel like a lot sometimes, but I created a schedule that works for me that helps me keep my balance. Like yes let's get this bread to pay for Ubers and food, not from the dining hall, but keep in mind the bread you're gonna get when you get your degree, so make time to do well in school.

Spend Less Money

I know I just talked about getting that bread so you have money to spend, but if you're like me, your mental wellbeing is jeopardized when you see your bank account balance dip below $100. Keeping a balance in your finances will, in turn, help you keep a balance in your life generally.

Eat out less and try cooking, it's typically healthier and will be helpful in the future. Try to catch rides from friends, utilize the free intercampus shuttles, or ride the ValleyMetro Lightrail that costs anywhere from a dollar to four dollars depending on what kind of pass you buy for transportation. These solutions are all cost-effective compared to Ubering or Lyfting everywhere if you don't have your own car like me.

Use the SDFC gyms and the free wellness classes instead of investing in a gym membership. Spend money on things you like, but try not to splurge every time you online shop or go to the mall because you do deserve to treat yourself every once in awhile. Learning how to budget now will cause you less stress later in life and teaches responsibility. Spending less in nonessential areas will help you save money for things you need like books, groceries and in some cases for bills that need to be paid.

One way I save money when shopping for clothes is by going thrifting. Most of the clothes I own are thrifted, and I like that they have a unique style that is not found in department stores anymore. While I like thrifting, buying second-hand clothes is a lot cheaper and is also good for the environment. So it's a win, win, and an even bigger, more global, win.

Make Time for your People

I cannot stress this enough. Making time for your family, friends, and significant other will help you succeed in other areas of your life. These people are your support system and keeping in contact with them will help you keep sane amongst all your school and work.

Taking a mental break and simply just hanging out with your friends will keep you happy and healthy. Plus in the grand scheme of things, your people and the memories made with them are what we are going to cherish most in this lifetime, so it won't hurt to take a break and go out to lunch with your friends. You'll regret not spending time with them in the end. And maintaining those connections can help you further your career in the future. Your people are just as important as your work, almost even more so.

While keeping your social life intact, you can also take the time to go out and explore your environment. My current English professor every Wednesday makes us as we leave class to show her a picture of us doing something non-academic. She has us do this so she knows we're taking time for our mental health, living our lives, and increasing our productivity by taking time for ourselves. If you don't trust me when I say this, take it from Dr. Telles and take that break. Your work will be waiting for you when you get back.

These five habits have helped days feel longer and stress-free as I bounce between school, work and my extracurriculars. It basically comes down to time management and staying organized, doing things seems basic but this it's easier said than done (especially if you're more type B such as myself).

Having more on my plate has taught me responsibility, accountability, and makes me feel more productive throughout the week. I take pride in the fact that I am working on my priorities instead of staying idle, oddly enough, I actually do enjoy "adulting" which is something I thought I would never say to myself. Staying balanced in my life has helped me feel an internal balance within myself. This all felt hard in the beginning, but the burden of everything is getting easier to bear as time goes on. I am healthier, happier, and less stressed all while furthering my education and earning my own wage.

This experience has given me the motivation to challenge my abilities and take on harder things in life, rather than running away from my problems. It has enriched my college experience and is shaping me into a better person. Even if this is not the exact route you're taking at Arizona State University, do something that is difficult and out of your comfort zone. You may feel like giving up at first, however implementing healthy and efficient habits will be worth it in the long run.

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A Message To High School Seniors

It's going to be alright.


Dear High School Seniors,

You've made it! In just a few months you will be getting ready to put on your cap and gown and walk across the stage to get your diploma. Soon, you're gonna say goodbye to the life you've known for the past four years and start a new life somewhere else. At this point, your senioritis has most likely already kicked in and you're probably dreading waking up at 7 a.m. more and more each day. The second semester of senior year is annoying but cherish every moment of it.

Everything is about to change. As you walk down the hallways look around. Take a second to look at your classmates and ask them how their day is going. Learn about them and the stories they have to share with the world. Everybody has some advice to give and you never know what you're going to learn. Before you know it, you won't be seeing their faces anymore. The only form of connection you'll have with most of them is through social media which will eventually fade as well. You don't want your only memories of those you graduated with to be just seeing their face in the hall.

Go to the places you love the most. Whether it's your favorite hometown restaurant or your favorite place to hang out with your friends, go. Go until you're sick of it. Take a second to acknowledge the sights and smells around you. You're going to miss them. In a few months, you won't be able to jump in your car and drive five minutes to get there. The places that make your home your home are about to be a long car ride or flight away.

Spend time with your family. This is one thing I wish I realized earlier more than anything. Your parents are most likely going to soon become visibly upset or scared at the fact that you're leaving them. After all, you are their little girl or boy. This time is just as stressful for them as it is for you. But don't make fun of them, hang out with them. You're going to miss the once dreaded trips to the grocery store with your mom and the annoying car rides with your little brother. You really don't realize how important your family is to you until they're not a few footsteps away anymore. Unfortunately, no amount of facetime calls will ever compare to being with them in person. Don't leave home wishing you had spent more time with them.

Be involved in the things happening at your school. Go to prom. Buy a yearbook and get as many people as you can to sign it. Go to the football, basketball, baseball and soccer games you have left. These activities may seem boring at times but they are what you're going to miss. When you get to a big university it isn't going to be as easy to get involved.

Get excited about for the future. Even if you're not going to your dream school, it's going to be ok. The second semester of my senior year I spent upset over the fact I was going to stay at an in-state school. The school I'm at now was the last place I had thought about attending. I almost didn't even apply. However, I am so lucky that I did. I truly can not imagine there being a school that could have been a better choice for me. The people I have met and the opportunities I have been given would have never been put in front of me if I had attended another school. Try to keep an open mind. Everything really does happen for a reason. If you aren't going to the school you originally were hoping to, don't stress. You're going to end up at the place right for you, at least I know I did.

College is amazing but there will always be something special about your home. Make sure you make these last few months your best months. These next few months will be filled with a whole lot of lasts and followed by a whole lot of firsts. Good luck!

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