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Local immigrant advocates protest Greyhound

The report was released Thurday, August 15, 2019
The report was released Thurday, August 15, 2019

Immigrant rights advocates are calling on Greyhound to stop letting border patrol agents question their riders. The ACLU and other advocacy groups have been urging the bus company to refuse to let agents question passengers about their immigration status.

Iman Abid is with the Genesee Valley Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She says Greyhound has a right to refuse searches without a warrant. She says they're urging them to do so because they believe these stops are unconstitutional.

"All we understand is that they’ve just been racially profiling people based on their race, ethnicity, and the way they speak. So if someone has an accent they have been known to ask them for their documentation based on that alone."

According to the ACLU, they and affiliated groups have been in contact with representatives from Greyhound since March to convince them to adopt a new policy regarding these searches. Abid says these talks have not resulted in change, so they are trying a different tactic.

"We're deciding to step up again and be a little more vocal."

In Rochester, a local couple was questioned and detained at a Greyhound station in May. Abid says these searches split up families.

"People have been using Greyhound to get to their families and get to their jobs, and nothing else. I think when we’re thinking about people who might be undocumented we’re thinking of them as criminals which is totally not true."

In response, Greyhound released this statement:

We understand our customers’ concerns about U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducting warrantless, but still legal, searches on our buses. 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.

CBP searches have negatively impacted both our customers and our operations. Greyhound does not coordinate with CBP, nor do we support these actions. That is why we are calling on Congress to change the law and will support positive efforts to do so. We also encourage all our customers to know their rights and share their opinion on this important issue with their members of Congress.

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.