The American dream holds a different connotation for everyone who hears it. But, for immigrants, the American dream signifies a new beginning and the possibility to rid themselves of the hardships from their home country. Keeping this in mind, whenever I open a news article or log onto a news site, I happen across articles upon articles on the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and their disregard for citizens of the United States. In fact, just two weeks ago the American Civil Liberties Union released a new article on a case between two residents of Havre, Montana and their interaction with a Customs and Border Protection agent.
Ana Suda and Martha “Mimi” Hernandez were speaking Spanish while standing in line to purchase eggs and milk when a Border Patrol agent standing in line behind them asked where they were born. The agent didn’t stop at that question and continued to ask them for identification even though the two had already told the agent that they were born in America. Eventually the interrogation process moved from inside the store to the store’s parking lot so that the agent could run their identification cards. The situation amplified when other Border Patrol cars pulled up and supervised the entire process.
This entire situation is absolutely ridiculous and proves that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other such agencies are inherently racist. These agencies target one demographic, the Spanish speaking population of America. You can see this because in Ana and Mimi’s case, they were inconvenienced for speaking a language that is uncommon in their area but looking at the geographic location of Havre, Montana it is incredibly reasonable for there to be illegal immigrants from Canada and not Mexico. Yet the Border Patrol agent supervisor even remarked that if they had been speaking French, Ana and Mimi would not have been treated with such utter disrespect.
As a trilingual American-born Indian, thinking of what could happen if I converse in Hindi with my parents outside of the house is terrifying because how many of the Border Patrol Agents could know Hindi? And as my grandmother always says, the lack of knowledge brings upon ignorance that is shameful at best and harmful at its worst. What sort of situation can I land myself in from speaking a language that isn’t English?
But possibly the even more terrifying scenario is that the Border Patrol Agency and other such agencies are using their powers to undermine the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and everything the United States of America stands for to exert a false sense of authority. Just within the interaction between Ana, Mimi and the Border Patrol agent, I can say that the First Amendment of freedom of speech and the Fourth Amendment of unreasonable search and seizure were violated. And this is so common with the many other cases between citizens of the United States and Border Patrol agents.
But why are these cases so common? Why are we hindering others from following the American dream and making a new life from themselves? If you imagine the hardships that they go through to escape cities in Mexico, such as Los Cabos where there are 111.33 homicides per every 100,000 people as rival cartels use the city as their battle ground. It only seems like the right thing to do would be to help make the immigration process easier so that we help make these victims United States citizens and better their way of life so that they wouldn’t have to live in fear and could be productive citizens.
Article was originally published on The Polytechnic