Bus giant Greyhound announced Friday that the company will no longer allow Border Patrol agents in search of illegal immigrants to board its buses without a warrant, in a move being hailed by civil rights advocates.
What are the details?
The Associated Press reported Greyhound wrote in an emailed statement that "it would notify the Department of Homeland Security that it does not consent to unwarranted searches on its buses or in areas of terminals that are not open to the public."
The emailed stated, "Our primary concern is the safety of our customers and team members, and we are confident these changes will lead to an improved experience for all parties involved."
Greyhound's new policy comes one week after the AP noted in a separate exclusive report that an internal memo from U.S. Customs and Border Protection dated Jan. 28 notified agents that boarding buses and questioning passengers without the consent of the company is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
The report further noted that "Greyhound has faced pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, immigrant rights activists and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to stop allowing sweeps on buses within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of an international border or coastline."
In June 2018, Greyhound stating on a company blog post, "While we are required to comply with the law by allowing Border Patrol agents to board our buses when they ask to do so, we do not support or coordinate these searches, nor are we happy about them." It concluded, "Our drivers face arrest and fines for obstructing these agents, and we would not want to put their safety, or the safety of our passengers at risk by attempting to physically stop a federal agent from boarding."
Both the ACLU and Ferguson took victory laps upon hearing of Greyhound's policy change.
Andrea Flores, deputy director of policy for the ACLU's Equality Division told the AP via email, "We are pleased to see Greyhound clearly communicate that it does not consent to racial profiling and harassment on its buses. By protecting its customers and employees, Greyhound is sending a message that it prioritizes the communities it serves."
Ferguson's office released his statement on Twitter, which read, "Today's announcement from Greyhound confirms what should have been obvious to the company since I contacted them a year ago — it has both the power and the responsibility to stand up for its customers, who suffered for far too long from Greyhound's indifference to CBP's suspicionless bus raids and harassment."
"It's unfortunate it took a leaked memo and the threat of a lawsuit by my office before Greyhound acted," Ferguson continued. "That said, we're not just going to take Greyhound's word. We'll be following up with Greyhound to ensure compliance."
As of this writing, CBP had not yet issued a public statement in reaction to Greyhound's announcement. The AP noted that in the past "Border Patrol has insisted that it does not profile passengers based on their appearance, but instead asks all passengers whether they are citizens or in the country legally. The agency says the bus checks are an important way to ferret out human trafficking, narcotics and illegal immigration."