ACLU: Greyhound Must Stop Giving Border Patrol Permission to Conduct Bus Raids

News Release: 
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
The ACLU of Washington and ACLU affiliates in California and eight other states today sent a letter to Greyhound Lines Inc. to urge the company to change its policies and refuse U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) permission to conduct raids on buses without warrants.
CBP agents, with the agreement of Greyhound, have been staging surprise boardings without warrants to question riders about their citizenship and travel plans. In many cases, all too reminiscent of police states, the agents demand to see a passenger’s “documents.” The bus raids have increased rapidly in the past year.
“These invasive raids are not only a blatant disregard of passengers’ constitutional rights, they are also clearly driven by racial profiling. And Greyhound’s cooperation with CBP is unnecessarily facilitating the violation of people’s rights,” said Enoka Herat, ACLU of Washington Police Practices and Immigrant Rights Counsel.
The letter cites instances of unlawful interrogations and searches in several states, including Washington:
  • Border Patrol agents reportedly board Greyhound buses frequently and intimidate passengers with questioning and demands for documents.  Agents have been doing so in the Spokane area for several years, including on purely domestic bus routes.  In 2017 alone, CBP agents took into custody at least 34 people after subjecting many more people to bus immigration checks in the Spokane area. 
CBP documents obtained by the ACLU of Washington indicate that most of these bus checks took place on Greyhound buses. In one recent case in January 2018, CBP agents confronted a father and son as they rode a Greyhound bus from Seattle to Montana.  Even though the son had valid Deferred Action for Childhood (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?”
ACLU volunteers will be distributing “Know Your Rights” handouts at Spokane’s bus station today at 11:00 am and 5:00 pm. 
“We want passengers to know that they have the right to remain silent and refuse searches when confronted by government agents who do not have warrants. They also have the right to record video of the incidents with agents,” said the ACLU-WA’s Enoka Herat.
Greyhound issued a statement earlier this year saying the company was “required” to cooperate with “enforcement agencies if they ask to board our buses.” But that’s not true. In fact, in accordance with court decisions stemming from the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, the company may deny CBP permission to interrogate passengers aboard a bus without warrants or probable cause.
CBP agents and Greyhound have said agents do not need warrants if they are within 100 miles of the international borders with Mexico or Canada. But geography does not negate the Fourth Amendment.
Among reported bus raids elsewhere in the country:
•   In California, CBP stopped a Los Angeles resident in Indio without any stated reason as he boarded a bus except that his “shoes looked suspicious,” like someone who had recently crossed the border. The man was detained to the point that he missed his bus.  In another instance, a CBP agent demanded to know the citizenship of a Latino U.S. citizen who was filming a raid and asked him to show two forms of identification.
•   In Vermont, CBP boarded a Greyhound bus as it arrived at a station and would not allow anyone to leave the bus. They asked passengers about their citizenship and checked the identification of people who had accents or were not white.
• Reports received by the ACLU of Michigan found that CBP agents operating on Greyhound buses focus on persons of color and never give passengers a reason for the stop.  CBP data obtained by the ACLU shows that 82% of foreign citizens stopped by CBP in Michigan are Latino, and that almost one in three of those processed are U.S. citizens.
Anyone who has witnessed CBP agents boarding a bus in Washington state is encouraged to report it to the ACLU at