Accusing Greyhound of allowing its buses to become "rolling traps" where U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents are permitted to conduct warrantless raids and interrogate immigrants at will, 10 local and state affiliates of the ACLU sent a letter (pdf) to the company on Wednesday arguing that such searches are unconstitutional and urging the company deny access to officials who don't present a warrant.
"Greyhound has a Fourth Amendment right to deny CBP permission to board and search its buses without a judicial warrant."
—ACLU"Greyhound should be in the business of transporting passengers, but instead is allowing intimidating interrogations and searches," Monica Andrade, attorney and legal fellow with ACLU of Michigan Skadden, said in a statement. "These searches violate the rights of passengers, who simply want to arrive to their destinations safely. They should not be subject to warrantless arrests and the threat of deportation."
While Greyhound insists that it is "required" to cooperate with CBP agents if they ask to board one of their buses, ACLU insists in its letter that it is "aware of no such requirement."
"Rather, Greyhound has a Fourth Amendment right to deny CBP permission to board and search its buses without a judicial warrant," the letter states.
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Signed by ACLU affiliates in Maine, California, New York, Texas, Vermont, and several other states throughout the nation, the letter goes on to highlight a number of alarming examples of CBP agents boarding buses without a warrant and intimidating passengers with interrogations and threats of deportation.
Below is a small sample of the incidents cited in the letter:
- In Vermont, in August 2017, CBP agents boarded a Greyhound bus as it arrived from Boston in White River Junction station. The agents would not allow anyone to leave the bus, asking the passengers their citizenship and checking the identification of people who had "accents or were not white."
- In Arizona, in an incident reported to the ACLU of Arizona in August 2017, CBP agents boarded a Los Angeles to Phoenix bus at a rest stop in Quartzsite. The agents questioned every passenger about their citizenship, demanded proof of lawful permanent residency from one passenger and arrested and removed another.
- In Florida, in January 2018, two videos taken by Greyhound passengers captured CBP agents asking passengers for proof of citizenship. The videos went viral and prompted national outcry. The first incident ended with CBP detaining a Jamaican woman, who was in the U.S. to visit her granddaughter, and the second incident with CBP arresting a 12-year Miami resident from Trinidad. Nineteen members of Congress issued a statement afterwards calling CBP's actions an "abuse of mandate and authority."
"We urge Greyhound to change its practices and policies to refuse CBP consent to board its buses without a warrant, except when legally required at the physical border or its equivalent," the letter concluded.