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UWCHR Sheds Light on Border Patrol Immigration Checks on Buses

Extensive redactions on Customs and Border Patrol documents released to UWCHR under the Freedom of Information Act.
Extensive redactions on Customs and Border Patrol documents released to UWCHR under the Freedom of Information Act.

March 22, 2018

In early 2018, videos of Customs and Border Protection agents questioning and arresting passengers on Greyhound buses went viral on social media. The videos of Border Patrol officers demanding passengers’ identification, including on domestic bus routes far from border crossings, raised concerns among both the public and advocates.

This week, the ACLU of Washington, along with other ACLU affiliates, sent a letter to Greyhound urging the company to change its policies and refuse CBP officers permission to conduct raids on buses without a judicial warrant.

Read CBP documentation of detention of 9 individuals during bus searches in Washington State from January through May, 2017.

Read CBP documentation of detention of 9 individuals during bus searches in Washington State from January through May, 2017.

“These invasive raids are not only a blatant disregard of passengers’ constitutional rights, they are also clearly driven by racial profiling,” said Enoka Heart, ACLU of Washington Police Practices and Immigrant Rights Counsel. “And Greyhound’s cooperation with CBP is unnecessarily facilitating the violation of people’s rights.”

Customs and Border Protection documents obtained by the UWCHR via a Freedom of Information Act request offer a glimpse into the practice, documenting the detention of 9 people in bus searches in Washington state during the five month period from January through May, 2017. The ACLU of Washington cites a report that as many as 34 people were detained in such stops in the state during 2017.

The documents obtained by the UWCHR are extensively redacted, with even the location of the bus searches blacked out, making detailed analysis difficult. The UWCHR has appealed the redactions and continues to seek related records from CBP, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and other local and federal agencies.

Read more about the ACLU of Washington’s letter and the UWCHR’s research in an article by Lilly Fowler in Crosscut.