STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — A prominent civil rights group is calling out a popular bus company for allowing immigration agents to board their coaches in search of passengers without legal documentation.
Several offices of the American Civil Liberties Union around the country on Wednesday sent a letter to Greyhound Lines asking they change their policies, preventing further searches on their buses by U.S. Border and Customs Protection.
“Greyhound buses, once a symbol of travel on America’s vast highways, have become rolling traps where U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents routinely board to unlawfully interrogate, detain and arrest passengers,” an ACLU press release read.
The organization claims CBP stages “surprise boardings” on Greyhound buses with the company’s consent.
In the letter addressed to Greyhound CEO Dave Leach and senior legal officer Tricia Martinez, the ACLU said, “Greyhound recently has said that the company believes it is ‘required’ to ‘cooperate with [CBP] if they ask to board our buses.’ We are aware of no such requirement.”
The letter goes on to say Greyhound has a Fourth Amendment right to deny immigration agents permission to board the buses.
For its part, Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker told The Bangor Daily News that “Greyhound is required to comply with the law.”
She “added that her company ‘has opened a dialogue’ with Border Patrol ‘to see if there is anything that can be done to balance the enforcement of federal law with the dignity and privacy of our valued customers,” the paper said.
The ACLU letter mentions an incident during which an L.A. resident was stopped by CBP agents in Indio, causing him to miss his bus. Agents allegedly told the man his “shoes looked suspicious,” as if belonging to someone who had just crossed the border.
In February, CBS News reported CBP agents boarded a Greyhound bus in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and detained a woman who did not possess legal documentation.
The ACLU of Southern California announced it would be holding “Ride With Rights” events in Los Angeles, Indio, Anaheim and San Bernardino this Friday, March 23.