The ACLU informs about the rights of bus users
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of the state of Maine joined its affiliates in California, Texas, Washington, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida and Arizona to request the bus operator company Greyhound Lines Inc. to change its policies and prevent the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from conducting bus raids without a warrant.
CBP agents, with Greyhound authorization and without a warrant, routinely board buses to question passengers about their citizenship and travel plans. In many cases, agents even demand to see “documents” from passengers.
Violation of constitutional rights
In a letter sent by the ACLU, it is pointed out that the raids without a warrant, which increased last year, are a flagrant lack of respect for the constitutional rights of passengers.
“This type of police surveillance makes us all less free,” said Zachary Heiden, legal director of the ACLU of Maine. “We should not have to carry our birth certificate or passport to demonstrate our citizenship every time we board a bus.”
Last January, the ACLU of Maine learned that CBP officers regularly board buses in Bangor to question passengers about their citizenship. That same month, the Union submitted a request for public records to learn more about this practice.
Meanwhile, CBP agents and the Greyhound company have publicly stated that agents do not need an order for the review, whether they are within 100 miles of the international borders with Mexico, or Canada, or the coast, which includes all of Maine.
Greyhound issued a statement earlier this year indicating that it was “required” to cooperate with “protection agencies if it requested to board our buses.” However, the ACLU states that this is not true. In fact, in accordance with judicial decisions derived from the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, the company may deny CBP permission to interrogate passengers aboard a bus without a warrant or probable cause.
“Greyhound should transport people safely from one place to another,” Heiden added. “It should not provide a place for immigration agents to conduct intimidating interrogations and suspicious searches of their clients.”
Rights of people upon interrogation
The ACLU, in its “Know Your Rights” document, informs bus users that they have the right to remain silent and refuse searches when confronted by government agents who do not have arrest warrants. They also have the right to record videos of the incidents to document the situation to which they are subjected.