[Vision2020] 12-22-18 Washington Post: Greyhound tells passengers how to push back when Border Patrol comes on board

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Sat Dec 22 17:32:33 PST 2018

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

Greyhound tells passengers how to push back when Border Patrol comes on

Spencer Hsu

Greyhound Lines is expanding alerts to passengers about their rights should
immigration agents board buses to demand identification and proof of

The information includes details on how to file civil rights complaints and
ways to support a change to federal law about the warrantless stops.

The advisories come amid the holiday travel season and as the country’s
largest motor coach operator and other carriers face an ongoing campaign
by civil rights groups, labor unions and Democratic lawmakers to push back
against recent expanded checks by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Greyhound posted a guide Dec. 13 on its website under “Travel Info” and a
section titled “Your rights & rules on board.”
It also has posters with advice set to arrive in bus terminals nationwide,
a company spokesman said.

A California woman who is a U.S. citizen has asked a California judge in
Oakland to order Greyhound to stop allowing agents to board buses, and her
lawyers praised the move by the company to get information to passengers.
That lawsuit is proceeding.

“We are pleased that Greyhound has taken a step in the right direction,”
Darren J. Robbins, whose San Diego law firm represents Rocío Córdova and
her claims on behalf of other passengers in California.

The bus line’s notice in English and Spanish advises customers on a law
that allows federal officials to board without a warrant any intercity bus
within 100 miles of any international border. The information under a
header of “U.S. CBP checks” also advises passengers to contact Congress to
change the law, a shift the company has said it would like to see.

The company advises riders that they have “the right to remain silent,” to
refuse a search of their belongings and to not answer questions about
citizenship or immigration status. They also have the right to refuse
signing paperwork without the advice of a lawyer, the company advises.

The notice also advises passengers of their right to record video of
immigration officers but cautions that passengers do not have a right to
interfere with agents.

Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker said the website change and the
posters arriving at terminals were issued to provide increased transparency
and out of respect for customers’ dignity, privacy and safety.

Booker said the changes followed “open and honest conversations internally
as well as with human right groups as we support changes to current

She added: Greyhound is “walking a difficult line between complying with
the law and best serving its customers. For this reason, implementation of
these actions have taken some time.”

The advisory on passenger protections includes telephone numbers for
Greyhound customer assistance and the American Civil Liberties Union,
directions for how to file civil rights complaints by mail, fax or email to
the Border Patrol’s parent department — the Department of Homeland Security
— and links to obtain free legal help through the ACLU, other civil
liberties groups and the Justice Department.

“The use of race or ethnicity as a factor in conducting stops, searches,
inspections, and other law enforcement activities based on the erroneous
assumption that a person of one race or ethnicity is more likely to commit
a crime than a person of another race or ethnicity is illegal,” the
carrier’s notice added.

Greyhound, in an October statement, said it understood customers’ concerns
about Border Patrol practices, adding that, while it neither coordinates
with nor supports the actions of Border Patrol, it intends to comply with
federal law.

“CBP officers do not ask permission to board our buses. We do not want to
put our drivers’ safety or the safety of our passengers at risk by
attempting to stop a federal agent from conducting checks,” the company
said at that time.

In her lawsuit, Córdova said she was traveling from San Diego to Phoenix by
Greyhound in November 2017 when her bus was pulled over on a highway to
allow federal border officers to interrogate passengers. She asserted
Greyhound violated state consumer protection law, which bar unfair and
unlawful business practices, by allegedly consenting to racial profiling by
law enforcement officers. She also suffered economic injury from delays,
the lawsuit says.

In addition to targeting Greyhound, whose 1,600 vehicles move 17 million
passengers a year in the United States, Canada and Mexico, critics of the
boarding by Border Patrol have also conveyed objections to Amtrak and other
bus companies.

In November Motel 6 agreed to pay up to $8.9 million to settle a
class-action lawsuit in federal court that alleged employees at two Phoenix
properties provided the personal information of several Latino guests to
immigration officials without a warrant, leading to the guests being

The Border Patrol, part of the Customs and Border Protection agency, said
its practice of targeting bus stations and other transportation hubs for
human smuggling and drug trafficking is decades-old, although the frequency
and intensity of the checks has increased in response to rising threats.

Critics of the stops say Greyhound also has a history of upholding its
customers’ civil rights, serving most famously as the vehicle for the
“Freedom Riders,” who in 1961 traveled on Greyhound buses to challenge
racial segregation in public transit in the South.

spencer.hsu at washpost.com
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