ACLU of Maine Joins ACLU Affiliates Around the Nation on Letter to Bus Company

 

BANGOR – The ACLU of Maine today joined ACLU affiliates in California, Texas, Washington, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida and Arizona on a letter urging Greyhound Lines Inc. to change its policies and refuse U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) permission to conduct warrantless raids on its buses. 

CBP agents, with the agreement of Greyhound, routinely board buses without a warrant to question riders about their citizenship and travel plans. In many cases, the agents demand to see a passenger’s “documents.” The ACLU argues the warrantless raids, which saw a rapid increase in the past year, are a blatant disregard of passengers’ constitutional rights.

“This sort of show-me-your-papers policing makes all of us less free,” said Zachary Heiden, legal director at the ACLU of Maine. “We shouldn’t have to carry our birth certificate or passport or otherwise prove our citizenship every time we board a bus.”

In January, the ACLU of Maine learned CBP agents regularly board buses in Bangor to interrogate passengers about their citizenship status. That month, the ACLU of Maine filed a public records request to learn more about the practice.

CBP agents and Greyhound have said agents do not need a warrant if they are within 100 miles of international borders with Mexico or Canada or the coast, which includes all of Maine.

Greyhound issued a statement earlier this year saying the company was “required” to cooperate with “enforcement agencies if they ask to board our busses.” The ACLU asserts that is not true. In fact, in accordance with court decisions stemming from the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the company may deny CBP permission to interrogate passengers aboard a bus without a warrant or probable cause.

“Greyhound should be in the business of transporting people safely from place to place,” said Heiden. “It should not be in the business of providing a place for immigration agents to perform intimidating interrogations and suspicionless searches of its customers.”

The ACLU, in its “Know Your Rights” materials, informs passengers that they have the right to remain silent and refuse searches when confronted by government agents who do not have warrants. They also have the right to record video of the incidents.

Read the ACLU letter to Greyhound here: https://www.aclumaine.org/sites/default/files/aclu_affiliate_letter_to_greyhound_-_final.pdf 

Read the ACLU of Maine FOAA to CBP here: https://www.aclumaine.org/en/press-releases/aclu-maine-seeks-records-cbp-questioning-bus-passengers

See the “Know Your Rights” materials here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/your-rights-border-zone

Stay informed

ACLU of Maine is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National