Greyhound Forced to Stop Allowing Border Agents on Buses in Washington State
After repeated demands, complaints and broad public outrage with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents boarding Greyhound buses without any cause to terrorize, harass, detain and deport immigrants, Greyhound has been forced to settle a lawsuit brought by Washington State. Greyhound is to stop allowing CBP on buses anywhere in the state and pay $2.2 million in damages. Spokane was a main focus of the unjust sweeps by CBP.
The lawsuit said Greyhound failed to warn customers of the sweeps, misrepresented its role in allowing the sweeps to occur and subjected its passengers to discrimination based on race, skin color or national origin. The sweeps are without warrants or any cause. The suit also said the sweeps caused harm, which Greyhound admitted. Passengers were subjected to armed CBP agents interrogating them, rifling through luggage while others watched, demanding identification (which is not required on a bus), forcing people off the bus, and imposing arrests, detention and deportation.
For years, Greyhound has worked with CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) all across the country, in carrying out these unjust and illegal sweeps. They are an integral part of raids by these highly militarized agencies that act with impunity. It was public outrage and organizing that forced Washington’s Attorney General to bring the case, something that will now no doubt be demanded in other states.
The $2.2 million will be used in part to provide restitution for passengers who were detained, arrested, or deported after CBP boarded their bus at the Spokane Intermodal Center. Greyhound is also required to enforce a policy denying CBP agents permission to board its buses in Washington State without “warrants or reasonable suspicion.” They must also train drivers and other workers to tell CBP that is the policy. Whether CBP complies, or fabricates “reasonable suspicion,” remains to be seen and is something bus riders and all concerned are on the look out for.
Greyhound also has to:
– Issue a public statement, at minimum in English and Spanish, clarifying that Greyhound does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion. It must put this statement on its website and communicate it to federal immigration law enforcement agencies and the City of Spokane, which owns the Intermodal Center;
– Place stickers on or near the front door of its buses stating that it does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion;
– Provide placards for its drivers to give to immigration agents stating that Greyhound does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses to conduct warrantless or suspicionless searches;
– Provide and display adequate notice to its customers of the risks of warrantless and suspicionless searches in the State of Washington wherever it sells bus tickets;
– Implement a complaint procedure for passengers who want to complain about the presence of immigration agents on Greyhound buses or at Greyhound bus stations, and notify the Attorney General’s Office of any such complaints received;
– Provide semi-annual reports to the Attorney General’s Office, including reporting whether immigration agents have boarded Greyhound buses in the State of Washington.