The ACLU, Making it Up as it Goes Along

The Desert Sun, a California affiliate of the USA Today Network recently ran a story titled “Border Patrol Stopped an Undocumented Man at the Indio Greyhound Station Because His ‘Shoes Looked Suspicious.”  That title was clearly intended to imply that the illegal alien in question was subjected to some kind of civil rights violation.

And the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) dutifully accused the Border Patrol of producing a “half-concocted, after-the-fact rationalization for stopping someone because he’s of Latino ethnicity.” It also stated that Greyhound Bus Lines could lawfully refuse to cooperate with the Border Patrol. However, when one takes a closer look at what actually happened the ACLU’s narrative falls apart.

8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(2) specifically authorizes immigration officers to “arrest any alien in the United States, if [the officer]has reason to believe that the alien so arrested is in the United States in violation of any such law or regulation and is likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained for his arrest.” An immigration violator attempting to board a bus is likely to escape before officers can apply for a warrant.

And, whether the ACLU finds it persuasive or not, illegal aliens are often identified by their clothing or the presence of desert sand and plant debris on their shoes.  In fact, the Supreme Court has opined – in a case dealing with illegal aliens and shoe-print evidence – that, “when used by trained law enforcement officers, objective facts, meaningless to the untrained, can be combined with permissible deductions” and may “form a legitimate basis for suspicion of a particular person and for action on that suspicion.”

So much for the accusations of racism. It looks more like the Border Patrol was just following the applicable law. The ACLU just doesn’t happen to like those laws. And as the title of the article notes, the suspect individual really was an illegal alien. He’s, apparently, still in Border Patrol custody, awaiting removal from the United States.

The implication that Greyhound is complicit in some type of institutional racism holds up just about as well. 8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(3) specifically permits immigration officers to, without warrant, board and search any railway car, conveyance or vehicle, to look for illegal aliens, within a reasonable distance of any external border of the United States. Current Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security regulations define a reasonable distance from the border to be 100 air miles.

Indio, California, is approximately 86 miles from the border with Mexico – so it’s well within the so-called “border zone.” And Greyhound has no legitimate basis for refusing to comply with the relevant federal law.

So much for the ACLU’s professed desire to preserve Greyhound’s corporate constitutional rights. In actuality, it sounds more like the ACLU is just trying to bully the company into becoming complicit in the unlawful transport of illegal aliens into the interior.

The ACLU claims that it “works tirelessly in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the Constitution’s promise of liberty for everyone in our country.” Apparently it plans to do so by deliberately misstating the law, harassing law-abiding companies and levying unsupported allegations of racism against hard-working Border Patrol agents.

It makes you wonder. While the ACLU is protecting illegal aliens from imaginary violations allegedly committed by the Border Patrol, who’s protecting us from the ACLU?

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    The ACLU not only justifies what our Constitution says for all ppl living withing the USA. They help immigration rights and women’s era and red for the disabled and many other RTS that r being violated. It’s great to know there is someone working to do rt for this country.

    • avatar

      Sorry, but the ACLU makes life easier for illegal aliens, criminals, terrorists, and the producers of the most vile and disgusting pornographic obscenities imaginable.

      The ACLU: America’s enemy within.

    • avatar

      but the constitution, and the laws, say illegals have no rights in the US. seems so many of you support criminals living in our country. big difference between legal immigration, and ILLEGAL aliens. you don’t seem to believe there is a difference

  2. avatar
    Robert Johnson on

    From what I can understand the aclu(very small letters) is very anti-American and does much to lead this country toward lawlessness and Social Marxism. At best–
    no benefit at all to America!!

  3. Pingback: The ACLU, Making it Up as it Goes Along | Visa Bulletin

  4. avatar
    Crystal Moore on

    They don’t deserve to have the word American in their name because they sure aren’t interested in protecting the rights of Americans! All we ever hear about is what they are doing for illegal aliens!