In Washington state, at least, border patrol agents will no longer be able to illegally sweep Greyhound bus lines looking for illegal immigrants.
Nicholas K. Geranios of the Associated Press reported that “Greyhound Lines Inc. will pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit over the bus line’s practice of allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to board its buses in Washington state to conduct warrantless immigration sweeps.”
According to Geranios, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleged that “the bus company failed to warn customers of the sweeps, misrepresented its role in allowing the sweeps to occur and subjected its passengers to discrimination based on skin color or national origin.”
The $2.2 million settlement will be used to fund a restitution program for Greyhound passengers who were either “detained, arrested or deported” after immigration agents boarded the company’s buses. This process usually occurred at Spokane Intermodal Center, the central hub for bus travel in the Northwest.
In a statement following the announcement of the settlement on Sept. 27, Ferguson said, “Greyhound has an obligation to its customers — an obligation it cannot set aside so immigration agents can go on fishing expeditions aboard its buses.”
“My office first insisted that Greyhound make these corporate reforms in 2019,” Ferguson added. “If Greyhound had simply accepted our reasonable demand, they would have avoided a lawsuit.”
Greyhound, which is based in Dallas, Texas, also issued its own statement following the lawsuit’s conclusion, saying it was “pleased” with the outcome of the case.
“By agreeing to the consent decree, we will more extensively communicate to our customers the policies and procedures we already have in place to serve the citizens of Washington state,” the company said.
In addition to paying the million-dollar settlement, Greyhound will be required to adopt a corporate policy that prevents immigration agents from boarding buses in Washington state without warrants or reasonable suspicion; issue official statements in both English and Spanish conveying that corporate policy; as well as post that same information on stickers visible on bus doors to inform immigrant riders of their rights.
Greyhound admitted to allowing immigration sweeps on its buses since at least 2013 and confirmed the practice publicly in 2018. The lawsuit against the company was finally filed in 2020.
Geranios reported that “during the sweeps, Hispanic people and other passengers of color were subjected to invasive questioning by armed federal agents and were often required to get off the bus. Immigration agents [also] sometimes detained or arrested passengers.”
For years, the company had claimed that it was legally required to allow immigration sweeps on its buses, but in 2020, then-U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost contradicted that statement, saying that immigration agents could only perform sweeps on buses with the consent of the company’s owner or its employees.