In a video taken by a passenger, a border agent asks a woman where her belongings are before they take her off the bus.
The video, which was shared by the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), is being used by the advocacy group to report that the officials entered the bus without a warrant. They argue that this move will end up “[eroding] public trust in police and authority figures whose job is to serve and protect our communities.”
.@CustomsBorder got on a Greyhound bus yesterday at 4:30pm in Fort Lauderdale and asked every passenger for their papers and to prove citizenship. Proof of citizenship is NOT required to ride a bus! For more information about your rights, call our hotline?? 1-888-600-5762 pic.twitter.com/rWJn61o8VP— FLImmigrantCoalition (@FLImmigrant) January 20, 2018
The Greyhound bus in question was headed to Miami, but officials boarded the bus while it was stopped in Fort Lauderdale. The woman who was detained remains unnamed. According to her daughter-in-law, she had gone to visit family the week before the arrest.
“She’s my daughter’s grandmother, and this was the first time meeting each other,” the woman said. “I dropped her off at the Greyhound bus stop Friday morning and never got word of her arrival. I’m very concerned about these officers questioning her without a lawyer present.”
According to FLIC, the arrest should be challenged due to the way officials carried themselves.
“Without an official, judicial warrant border patrol agents should not be permitted to board the private property of the Greyhound corporation to harass its customers with questions transgress their civil liberties,” FLIC wrote in a statement. “The people of Florida deserve to ride their local bus transportation in peace without having to carry a birth certificate or passport to go to Disney world, visit family, or commute for work.”
While FLIC is correct, and private property should not have been searched without a warrant, a decades-old federal regulation allowing border agents to set up transportation checks within 100 miles of the border may have been the reason why these agents were able to enter the bus in the first place. Since Florida’s territory falls mostly under this category, millions of people are at risk of being subject to searches that are unconstitutional, yet backed by federal regulations.
About 2/3 of the US population lives within the 100-mile zone that regulation defines as the border zone (within 100 miles of a border). pic.twitter.com/qNCOQ4YzpX— Elina M Santana (@ElinaMSantana) August 3, 2017
While this particular incident is upsetting and just wrong, this isn’t the first time border agents have pulled passengers out of these buses.
A father and son were recently been pulled off their bus in Spokane, Washington, where they were questioned. The son, who was protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was released, but the father was detained.
Regardless of where you stand on immigration policies, the fact is that anyone can be harassed and even arrested for simply looking like an immigrant, having a last name that sounds foreign, or even sounding like a foreigner. To Americans or residents who happen to be the children or grandchildren of immigrants, this may spell trouble as countless people may end up detained by border agents simply because they do not carry their green cards or birth certificates around at all times.
Even asking questions about whether you're required to comply will slow the process down and make others aware of their rights.— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) January 21, 2018
If we don't have the freedom to tell the cops to stay out of our pockets, our homes, our documents, our stuff, we are not free.— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) January 21, 2018
If anything, this aggressive method of pursuing the undocumented should remind us all of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, where countless people were forced to “show their papers” or face unspeakable horrors.
Is that how America will be "great again," President Donald Trump?
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Flickr user (vincent desjardins)