AG Ferguson orders Greyhound not to allow searches without an arrest warrant

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Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that Greyhound Lines Inc. will pay $ 2.2 million to resolve its lawsuit over the bus line’s practice of allowing US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on their buses, principle – and have to carry out suspicious immigration controls when they have not. Greyhound did not warn customers about the searches, misrepresent its role in conducting the searches, and discriminate against its passengers based on race, color or national origin.

Ferguson will use the payment to compensate passengers arrested, arrested or deported after immigration officials boarded their bus at the Spokane Intermodal Center and to partially reimburse the legal expenses of its office. The amount of compensation each person receives depends on the number of claims and the severity of the damage caused by Greyhound’s behavior.

The decree approving, filed in the Spokane County Superior Court on the eve of the trial, requires Greyhound to implement a series of corporate reforms to end its illegal behavior. For example, Greyhound must create a clear company policy denying CBP agents permission to board its buses in Washington without warrants or reasonable suspicion. The national bus route must also train its drivers and other staff on how to communicate this policy to CBP agents.

“My office initially insisted that Greyhound conduct these corporate reforms in 2019,” Ferguson said. “If Greyhound had simply accepted our reasonable request, they would have avoided filing a lawsuit. Now, on the eve of the trial, Greyhound’s evasion has come to an end, and now it has to pay $ 2 million for the damage it did to the Washingtoners. Greyhound has an obligation to its customers – an obligation it cannot override in order for immigration officers to go on fishing expeditions aboard its buses. ”

In addition to paying $ 2.2 million, Greyhound also:

  • Create a clear company policy denying CBP agents permission to board their buses in Washington state without an arrest warrant or reasoned suspicion
  • Provide training for its drivers and employees on how to communicate company policies to CBP agents
  • Make a public statement, in at least English and Spanish, making it clear that Greyhound does not consent to immigration officers boarding his buses without a warrant or reasoned suspicion. She must post this statement on her website and submit it to federal law enforcement and the city of Spokane, which owns the Intermodal Center
  • Post stickers on or near the front door of his buses advising immigration officers not to board their buses without an arrest warrant or reasonable suspicion
  • Provide signs for its drivers to give to immigration officers indicating that the greyhound does not allow immigration officers to board its buses to conduct warrant or suspicious searches
  • Provide your customers with adequate information on the risks of no-guarantee, no-suspicion searches in Washington state wherever bus tickets are sold
  • Establish a complaint process for passengers who wish to complain about the presence of immigration officers on Greyhound buses or at Greyhound bus terminals, and notify the Attorney General of any complaints received
  • Submit semi-annual reports to the Attorney General’s office, including reporting whether immigration officers boarded greyhound buses in Washington state

Fall background
Ferguson filed its lawsuit against the national bus company in April 2020, claiming Greyhound had allowed the sweeps on its buses since at least 2013. Greyhound has publicly recognized the 2018 sweeps harming Greyhound passengers in its buses.

Immigration controls on board Greyhound buses delay travel for all passengers. During the searches, Latinx and other colored passengers are intrusively interrogated by armed federal agents and often have to get off the bus. CBP agents sometimes detain or arrest passengers or rummage through their luggage while others watch.

Greyhound transported more than 420,000 passengers to or from the Spokane Intermodal Center between 2013 and 2020.

Greyhound behavior resulted in passengers experiencing travel delays, missed connecting flights, alarms, fear, questioning, search and detention by federal immigration officials, and / or discrimination based on race, color and / or national origin.

Ferguson’s office asked Greyhound in February 2019 to change its practice of voluntarily allowing the sweeps. Greyhound refused to change its practices. Ferguson sent Greyhound a letter on May 28, 2019 asking Greyhound to make specific reforms to protect its customers.

Greyhound refused. The company continued to refuse to adequately inform its customers about the risk of immigration controls on its buses. In addition, it refused to implement a company policy denying CBP agents boarding their buses without an arrest warrant or at least reasonable suspicion. The company also refused to offer updated training on the same subject to its drivers and agents.

In response to increasing public pressure from media coverage of the searches, the company communicated privately with CBP in April 2018. According to a federal official who shared a conversation with Greyhound, the company remained determined to support CBP enforcement efforts but felt “abandoned”. by CBP in the face of public pressure, the lawsuit alleges.

For years, Greyhound claimed that the company was “obliged to comply with the law by allowing border officials to get on our buses if they so choose”, although CBP’s own materials contradict Greyhound’s claim that agents are only allowed to board buses, to conduct command and suspicious searches in places such as the Spokane Intermodal Center with the consent of the bus company.

In February 2020, a memo surfaced by then-US border patrol chief Carla Provost, which confirmed Ferguson’s claim that CBP agents could only carry out orderly and suspicious immigration controls on buses with the consent of the owner or the company’s employees. The memo undermined Greyhound’s public position and confirmed Ferguson’s legal analysis, which he shared with the company back in 2019. A week after the memo was posted in the media, Greyhound told the media that it would no longer allow the searches.

Despite his public statements, Greyhound continued to refuse to adequately inform its customers of the risk of them being subject to a principled and suspicious search. Greyhound went on to falsely argue that the company had no choice but to allow federal immigration officers to get on its buses and conduct the searches, despite the company long knowing that CPB’s own materials contradict their position.

In March, Judge Maryann C. Moreno denied Greyhound’s attempt to dismiss Ferguson’s lawsuit. In her ruling, Judge Moreno dismissed Greyhound’s argument that the company had no choice but to allow federal immigration officers to get on his buses and conduct the searches.

A process to resolve the case was due to begin on September 27th.

Assistant Attorneys General Lane Polozola, Yesica Hernandez, Brian Sutherland and Emily Nelson, Investigators Alma Poletti, Paralegal Jennifer Treppa, and Paralegals Caiti Hall and Anna Alfonso of the AGO’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Division handled the case for Washington.

Washington’s consumer laws protect everyone who lives and does business in Washington state. The attorney general helps all Washingtoners. The office is not part of the federal government and does not pass on any information to the immigration authorities.

The attorney general will use the $ 2.2 million payment from Greyhound to reimburse passengers arrested, arrested, or deported after immigration officers boarded their bus at the Spokane Intermodal Center, as well as to partially reimburse legal costs of his office .


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