Greyhound pledges $ 2.2 million for immigration bus sweeps



Greyhound Lines will pay $ 2.2 million to resolve a lawsuit filed by Washington state that accused it of allowing United States customs and border officials to conduct immigration sweeps without warrant in his buses, state officials said this week.

The Washington state attorney general said the settlement would be used to compensate passengers detained, arrested or deported after immigration officers boarded their buses at the Spokane Intermodal Center, and for partial reimbursement litigation costs from his office.

Greyhound failed to warn customers of sweeps, distorted its role in allowing sweeps to occur and discriminated against its passengers on the basis of race, skin color or national origin, attorney general says , Bob Ferguson.

Mr Ferguson’s office estimates that since 2013, up to 57,000 passengers may have been on buses that have been boarded by immigration officers at the Spokane Intermodal Center. The office said about 250 of those passengers may have been detained.

Individual payments will depend on the number of claims filed and the severity of the harm suffered by each person as a result of Greyhound’s conduct, Ferguson said.

Mr Ferguson announced the consent decree on Monday, the day a lawsuit he filed in April 2020 was due to go to trial.

The lawsuit accused Greyhound of authorizing immigration sweeps on its buses in violation of state consumer protection law and state anti-discrimination law. Greyhound publicly acknowledged the sweeps in 2018, Ferguson said.

In addition to paying $ 2.2 million, Greyhound agreed to a number of policy changes, some of which were implemented by the company last year.

Greyhound must create a policy that explicitly prohibits customs and border protection officials from boarding its buses in Washington state without a warrant or “reasonable suspicion,” Ferguson said.

Greyhound must also place stickers on or near the front door of its buses that communicate this policy to passengers, and it must provide its drivers with signs explaining the policy which they can give to immigration officials, a he declared.

“My office first insisted that Greyhound make these corporate reforms in 2019,” Ferguson said in a statement. “If Greyhound had simply accepted our reasonable request, they would have avoided a trial.”

“Now, on the eve of the trial, Greyhound’s escape has ended, and now he has to pay $ 2 million for the harm he caused Washingtonians,” Ferguson continued. “Greyhound has an obligation to its customers – one that it cannot put aside so that immigration officers can go on a fishing expedition aboard its buses.”

Greyhound said in a statement he was happy to have made the deal.

“By accepting the Consent Order, we will be communicating more widely to our customers the policies and procedures we already have in place to serve the citizens of Washington state,” the company said in a statement.

For years, Greyhound had allowed immigration officials to board his buses without a warrant, citing a law he said he disagreed with.

During the Trump administration, when the White House sought to crack down on illegal immigration, passengers aboard buses and trains on domestic routes were subjected to immigration checks, and border patrol agents were subjected to immigration checks. were found working without permission on private property and setting up checkpoints up to 100 miles from the border.

In February 2020, Greyhound announced that it would no longer allow border patrol officers to perform immigration checks on its warrantless buses.

Greyhound said last year that it would place stickers on its buses “clearly displaying our position” and that it plans to send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security “officially stating that we do not consent to warrantless searches. in our buses and in terminal areas which are not open to the general public.

The company made the announcement a week after a leaked government memo revealed officers could not board buses without consent.

In the note, which was first reported by The Associated Press, the border patrol chief confirmed that officers were prohibited from boarding buses to interview passengers without a warrant or company consent. of bus.

“When transport checks take place on a bus at locations other than checkpoints,” Chief Carla Provost wrote in the memo, “the officer must demonstrate that he or she had access to the bus with the consent of the owner of the business or one of the employees of the business ”.


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