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Protesters Demand Greyhound Refuse Immigration Checks By Border Patrol

Stella M. Chávez
Immigrant advocates marched several blocks in downtown Dallas on Friday to deliver signed petitions to Greyhound's headquarters. They group wants border patrol agents to stop boarding buses without a warrant or probable cause.

The American Civil Liberties Union, members of the local Greyhound bus drivers’ union and representatives of other groups delivered 200,000 signed petitions to the Greyhound bus headquarters in downtown Dallas on Friday.

They’re demanding the company stop allowing border patrol agents onto its buses to question passengers.

Gathered in Main Street Garden Park, immigrant advocates said Greyhound has the right to refuse border patrol agents from boarding their buses without a warrant or probable cause.

The campaign, called Transportation Not Deportation, accuses U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents of racial profiling and violating passengers’ constitutional rights by asking that they prove their U.S. citizenship.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said the practice is happening in heavily Hispanic areas and beyond border checkpoints.

“Greyhound is doing something that they don’t have to do. They’re subjecting many of their passengers who have paid them a fare, who have helped them thrive as a company for so many years in this great country,” Castro said. “They’re subjecting them to warrantless searches to racial profiling.”

Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
The ACLU is leading the campaign called Transportation Not Deportation and includes support from the ACLU of Texas, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the Amalgamated Transit Union's Local 1700 of Greyhound drivers and other employees, Color of Change and CREDO.

After a series of speeches, the group walked several blocks to Greyhound’s headquarters carrying boxes containing 200,000 signed petitions.

Tricia Martinez, senior vice president for Greyhound’s legal department, read a statement from CEO Dave Leach.

The statement said the company understood customers’ concerns but that the searches were legal. She also said Greyhound didn’t support the searches and that it doesn’t coordinate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
Tricia Martinez, Greyhound's senior vice president for legal affairs, read a statement from the company's CEO. The statement said Greyhound and its passengers had been affected by the searches and that border patrol agents didn't ask for permission to board the buses.

“CBP officers do not ask our permission to board our buses,” Martinez said. “We do not want to put our drivers’ safety or our passengers at risk by attempting to stop federal agents from doing legal checks.”

The statement also said that the searches by CBP agents had negatively affected the company’s operations and its passengers.

More protests are planned in the coming weeks, including one in Los Angeles later this month.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.