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Does Greyhound care about its passengers’ rights—especially those who are immigrants?
According to The Huffington Post, Greyhound allows Border Patrol to routinely board their buses and ask passengers for proof of citizenship — no warrant required. Border Patrol officers have been allowed to carry out searches on Greyhound buses up to 100 miles away from the border, even if they’re not searching for a specific person. Greyhound has yet to prohibit these random raids, and officials say they have no intention of doing so, HuffPo reports.
The New York Civil Liberties Union and nine other state affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union banded together last month to urge Greyhound to stop allowing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to randomly board their buses and interrogate riders on their citizenship status. Their letter argues that Greyhound’s cooperation with CBP constitutes a violation of their riders’ rights.
“Greyhound should not be in the business of volunteering for the Trump administration’s deportation regime,” wrote Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The company has a constitutional right to refuse to allow Border Patrol to board its buses without a warrant, and it should exercise that right to protect its customers.” She categorized these raids as “discriminatory, invasive, and unnecessary.”
Unfortunately, Greyhound’s inaction when it comes to immigrant rights is not new. In January, a Greyhound passenger posted a video of Border Patrol officers boarding a bus and demanding to see proof of citizenship from the passengers on board. A woman from Jamaica found to be riding the bus with an expired tourist visa was later arrested. According to the Florida Immigration Coalition, she was visiting her granddaughter for the first time, the Miami Herald reports.
The company responded to outrage over the video later that month with a statement. “We are required to comply with all local, state and federal laws and to cooperate with the relevant enforcement agencies if they ask to board our buses or enter stations.”
“Unfortunately, even routine transportation checks negatively impact our operations and some customers directly,” the statement continued. “We encourage anyone with concerns about what happened to reach out directly to these agencies. Greyhound will also reach out to the agencies to see if there is anything we can do on our end to minimize any negative effect of this process.”
But are the actions of Border Patrol on Greyhound buses really beyond their control? A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told HuffPo that Border Patrol’s actions are in accordance with what they’re allowed to do, citing a statute that says immigration officers may board and search for aliens in any vessel within a reasonable distance (100 miles, the ACLU reports) from the border and without a warrant.
As HuffPo pointed out, the question of whether such tactics violate any laws is likely one that will have to be answered in court one day.
(Photo: Greyhound Bus station on April 27, 2011 in Washington, DC. By Jeffrey MacMillan/For Washington Post, via Getty Images.)