Greyhound Agrees Not To Allow Warrantless Searches On Its Buses In Washington
Greyhound has agreed to no longer allow federal agents to board its buses in Washington without a warrant.
A lawsuit brought by the state attorney general’s office was triggered by several arrests made by Border Patrol agents on buses at Spokane’s Intermodal Center. Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he asked Greyhound to change its policies to forbid the practice, but says the company ignored him.
“One thing I’ve learned with corporations like Greyhound, the only thing that they will respond to, the only thing that will change their actions, is having to defend their actions before a federal judge, or a local judge in this case. That often does not go well for them. In this case, Greyhound essentially backed down, agreed to all of our original terms and I made them pay more than $2 million for the trouble we went through to get to this point," he said.
Ferguson says that money will compensate people who were detained or searched without warrants by agents from federal homeland security agencies. He says his office has identified as many as 250 people who fit that description. He says people can contact his office to see whether they may qualify.
Greyhound does not acknowledge wrongdoing in the settlement. It issued a statement saying it will, quote, “more extensively communicate to our customers the policies and procedures we already have in place to serve the citizens of Washington state.”
In the consent decree documents, Greyhound agreed that it “shall not engage in unfair or deceptive practices by voluntarily allowing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its subagencies…to board Greyhound’s buses or access Greyhound’s non-public property for the purpose of conducting warrantless and suspicion less law enforcement activity, including immigration enforcement sweeps, while failing to fully and fairly inform potential customers and passengers that it does so, failing to warn its passengers of the likelihood that immigration enforcement activity will occur on its buses, and/or failing to notify customers of the delays and risks associated with that enforcement activity.”
The decree forbids Greyhound from placing “misleading or deceptive advertisements or statements to the general public related to DHS, CBP (Border Patrol) and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) law enforcement activity, including immigration enforcement sweeps, on Greyhound buses or in non-public areas of Greyhound’s bus terminals.”
Greyhound has agreed to create a “Policy of Warrantless Bus Searches” and to post it in English and Spanish on the company’s website and at any location in Washington where the company sells bus tickets.
The company also agrees to maintain a list of all warrants and requests made by immigration agencies in Washington. It will train all of its employees about the new policy and how to respond to law enforcement officials who make requests.