The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) just can’t seem to leave Greyhound Bus Lines alone. As FAIR has noted, the so-called civil rights organization has been pressuring the venerable transport company to violate federal immigration laws – alleging that doing so would preserve the “constitutional rights” of both Greyhound and its passengers.
The ACLU’s point of contention is searches of passenger buses regularly conducted by the U.S. Border Patrol at transportation hubs in border zones. According to the ACLU, the nation’s largest motor coach operator should simply stop giving the Border Patrol permission to search its buses. The latest attack on Greyhound came in the form of protests at bus terminals in central and western New York, which seem to be part of a concerted campaign involving ACLU chapters from Florida to California.
However, there is a major problem with the ACLU’s recommendation. It’s incredibly poor legal advice. The Border Patrol doesn’t need a search warrant to board and search a bus in a border zone. 8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(3) specifically permits immigration officers, without warrant, to board and search any railway car, conveyance or vehicle, to look for illegal aliens, within a reasonable distance of any external boundary of the United States. Current law defines a reasonable distance from the border to be 100 air miles. Rochester, New York, is roughly 85 miles from the Canadian border.
Illegal aliens frequently enter the U.S. and then board busses or trains to get away from the border. Immigration authorities have a legitimate interest in detecting them and apprehending them before they disappear into the interior of the country. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has repeatedly found that warrantless searches at or near the border fall within the so-called “Border Search Exception” and immigration agents are free to board public conveyances in the border zone to verify travelers’ immigration status.
Of course, neither the relevant statute, nor the interpreting precedent, fit the ACLU’s “immigration enforcement-equals-oppression” narrative. So it simply ignores them and attempts to bully companies like Greyhound into violating our immigration laws, thereby aiding illegal aliens, and thwarting legitimate efforts to protect our borders.
However, the fact that the ACLU has conjured up a non-existent “right” to illegally jump our borders and get away with it doesn’t mean Greyhound has to buy into the illusion. Like all companies operating in the United States, it has a vested interest in cooperating with law enforcement to keep its customers safe. So, maybe it’s time for Greyhound’s executives to tell the ACLU, “Mind your own business and leave the driving to us!”