Bus company urged to stop allowing Border Patrol raids

By agency reporter
October 21, 2018

More than 200,000 signed petitions were delivered to Greyhound's headquarters demanding the transportation company stop allowing Border Patrol officials to board buses and search or question passengers without a warrant or probable cause. Greyhound has the legal right to refuse immigration agents access to their private, ticketed areas and buses but has continued to cooperate with the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.

“Throughout the presidential campaign and into the Oval Office, we’ve seen a disturbing pattern of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies including US Customs and Border Protection officials boarding Greyhound buses and demanding customers prove their citizenship”, said Rep Joaquin Castro (Democrat-Texas). “Such practices are happening even beyond the border checkpoints, and Greyhound is exposing its passengers to constitutional rights violations and unlawful seizures by not stopping this practice.” Rep Castro led a group of 23 lawmakers from the Hispanic, Black, and Asian Caucuses that sent a letter urging Greyhound to immediately change its practices and protect its passengers.

Ava Sharifi, a college student who was aboard a Greyhound bus in the state of Washington from Spokane to Seattle, was questioned by Border Patrol and witnessed the officers racially profile passengers. She said, “One of the officers started from the back of the bus and worked his way to the front, asking every person where they were born. However, he would walk away from Caucasians before they even finished their answer. It was obvious he had his victims in mind. Instead, he would stand over passengers that had darker skin or an accent and ask them question after question.”

Deyvid Morales, a Dreamer who was arrested on a Greyhound bus from Utah to Louisiana, had his tuition money and luggage taken. He said to the crowd at the demonstration, “I was detained for 17 days. I wasn’t allowed to talk to my parents for at least four days. I had to put up $4,000 in bail to be released and was sent back to Utah. My experience will leave a lasting impact on my life. I wasn’t able to return to college, leave the state, or even work for an extended period of time. I was facing deportation for over a year. I was depressed for a long time after. I live in constant fear that I could be kicked out of the only country I’ve ever known.”

Greyhound’s millions of passengers are at risk of being subjected to interrogation without a warrant or cause by Border Patrol because of their skin colour, accent, or dress.

“It’s time Greyhound management speak out and send the Department of Homeland Security a letter saying they won’t permit border agents on their buses to harass passengers because of how they look. Greyhound has hidden behind our drivers for too long. We will no longer tacitly support immigration sweeps based on racial profiling that ends up with immigrant families being torn apart”, said Karen Miller, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union chapter Local 1700. ATU Local’s 1700 members include 3,500 Greyhound drivers, mechanics, and terminal employees.

The petitions were collected as part of a campaign, titled 'Transportation Not Deportation' by ACLU National, Colour of Change, and CREDO.

“The border is not a constitution-free zone”, said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “Whether you are a citizen or undocumented, within 100 miles from the border or smack-dab in middle America, the Constitution applies.  No one should be subjected to unlawful stops and searches. Greyhound must stop helping border patrol violate the rights of its passengers.”

“CBP’s reliance on racially profiling passengers ensures that the over three million Black Americans who don’t have a government issued ID are at a heightened risk for unwarranted arrest and detainment when they travel on Greyhound. Black immigrants who are legally in this country have already been detained because of Greyhound's complicity. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Greyhound has a legal right to refuse these warrantless searches”, said Clarise McCants, campaign director at Color of Change. “Greyhound’s refusal to exercise their legal right to defend their passengers harkens back to the antebellum days when Black people had to carry ‘slave passes’ or ‘freedom papers’ in order to move in public.”

“History will remember which companies helped Donald Trump terrorise immigrants and which ones stood up to his hate. Right now, Greyhound is on the wrong side”, said Nicole Regalado, campaign manager at CREDO. “By allowing ICE and CBP to search its buses without probable cause or a warrant, Greyhound is endangering the lives of every Black and Brown passenger. If the company doesn't ban these searches, more and more consumers will refuse to ride its buses for fear of being interrogated and harassed by Trump's foot soldiers.”

*CREDO https://credoaction.com/

* Color of Change https://colorofchange.org/

* American Civil Liberties Union https://www.aclu.org/

[Ekk/6]

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