Greyhound allows Customs and Border Patrol agents to board their buses to conduct indiscriminate “immigration checks.” In response, several American Civil Liberties Union chapters urged the company to not permit agents to conduct these checks that “violate the rights of passengers.”
A letter [PDF], which several ACLU chapters signed, describes incidents in several states that have occurred in the last year.
In January, according to the letter, “CBP agents confronted a father and son as they rode a Greyhound from Seattle to Montana. Even though the son had valid Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and the father never gave the agents any information about his immigration status, agents arrested the pair after asking them, ‘Are you illegal?’ and ‘Do you have your documents on you?'”
The same month in Indio, California, CBP agents “boarded a Greyhound bus and asked every passenger for their citizenship and immigration status and identification.” One of the eyewitnesses, a Latino U.S. citizen, filmed the incident outside the bus, including a removal and arrest of an individual. One CBP agent responded by demanding to see the “witness’s citizenship and asked him. for two forms of identification.”
More recently, in February, an agent detained a Los Angeles resident on a bus from Indio to L.A. and said he was stopped because his “‘shoes looked suspicious,’ like someone who had recently crossed the border.”
Two videos recorded in January by Greyhound passengers showed CBP agents demanding proof of citizenship. One featured CBP “detaining a Jamaican woman, who was in the U.S. to visit her granddaughter,” and the second incident involved a 12-year Miami resident from Trinidad.”
Back in August, CBP agents reportedly boarded a bus from L.A. to Phoenix “at a rest stop in Quartzsite.” All passengers were questioned about their citizenship.
Yet another egregious incident in January occurred when a couple arrived in Detroit by Greyhound. They were detained by CBP agents.
“The agents, without giving any reason for the stop, questioned the couple about their immigration status and asked them to produce their ‘documents,'” the letter recounts. “The man was arrested by CBP, transferred to the local police department, and is currently being held in immigration detention while his U.S. citizen fiancée [struggles] to bring her partner back home.”
The ACLU maintains that Greyhound has the power to exercise its Fourth Amendment rights and refuse to consent to law enforcement agents who attempt to enter nonpublic areas without a warrant. Since passengers are required to have a ticket to board a bus, agents should not be permitted access.
“Greyhound is in the business of transporting its passengers safely from place to place,” the letter concludes. “It should not be in the business of subjecting its passengers to intimidating interrogations, suspicionless searches, warrantless arrests, and the threat of deportation.”
Amien Kacou, who is an immigration attorney at the ACLU of Florida, declared, “Greyhound is not obligated to permit warrantless CBP raids and to facilitate violations of its passengers’ civil rights.”
“These raids routinely lead to violations of the constitutional rights against racial discrimination under the equal protection clause, and against unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, as CBP officers target people of color and coerce vulnerable individuals to submit to interrogations about their citizenship and immigration status,” Kacou added.
The effort to convince Greyhound to stand up for passengers’ rights comes as politicians in Congress announced a $1.3 trillion budget plan that will not protect individuals covered by DACA from deportation. That jeopardizes the future of over 800,000 people.
It grants $1.57 billion to President Donald Trump for starting construction of a wall at the Mexico border. (Of course, as these photos show, there already are many barriers or security fences in place.)
The budget proposal will expand the number of agents, prosecutors, and judges so deportations can occur more rapidly. Detention bed funding will be maintained for immigrants. But the budget does not attack “sanctuary cities,” which has been a target of Trump administration officials upset by resistance to their anti-immigrant agenda.