Passengers on buses and other transportation do not leave their fourth amendment constitutional rights at the curb. In response to recent demands for identification by federal immigration officers, Greyhound issued an advisory to bus passengers about their rights against illegal search and seizure.
The advisory was issued during the holiday season amid recent expanded checks by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Greyhound advised customers that the law permits federal officials to board any intercity bus within 100 miles of an international border.
Customers were advised that they have the right to remain silent, refuse a search of their belongings and do not need to answer questions about their citizenship or immigration status. Customers were also notified that they may also refuse to sign paperwork without having the advice of an attorney, according to the notice.
Riders may record video of CBP agents, but they should not interfere with these agents, according to the notice. Greyhound also said that using race or ethnicity as a factor for performing stops and searches and considering the person’s race or ethnicity for determining their likelihood for committing a crime is illegal.
In October, Greyhound issued a statement in which it acknowledged concerns about Border Patrol practices. It said that CBP agents do not seek its permission to board their buses, but the carrier did not want to jeopardize passenger or driver safety by stopping agents from conducting their checks.
Critics of the Border Patrol boarding practices also submitted objections to Amtrak and other motor carriers. The Border Patrol said that its practice of targeting transportation hubs for human and drug trafficking has been ongoing for decades and its frequency and intensity increased because of growing threats.
Motorists or passengers who are subject to searches by any law enforcement agency may want to get more information about their legal options.