Greyhound to Border Patrol: Show Us Your Papers



Bowing to illegal-alien advocates, Greyhound says it will no longer allow Border Patrol agents to conduct immigration checks on its buses without a warrant.

Coincidental or not, Greyhound’s policy reversal came three weeks after a leaked memo in which now-retired Border Patrol chief Carla Provost opined that warrants are required for such checks.

There’s also the conjecture that the presence of law enforcement was driving off some of Greyhound’s sketchier passengers.

“The policy of letting border agents do immigration checks without reasonable suspicion or without a warrant was a bit surprising,” Rich Kelsey, former law dean at George Mason University and frequent writer on immigration issues, told FAIR this week.

That said, Kelsey thinks Greyhound’s warrant demand is shaky. “No officer requires a warrant if there exist contemporaneous facts that rise to the level of reasonable suspicion for a search. That’s something less than probable cause.”

As America’s largest interstate bus company (currently up for sale by the publicly traded U.K. firm FirstGroup), Greyhound is a public conveyance licensed and regulated by the federal government. As such, Dan Cadman of the Center for Immigration Studies, notes a public interest “in assuring that [Greyhound] is not, intentionally or unintentionally, facilitating illegal activity in the conduct of their business, most especially not on interstate highways whose construction and maintenance are, by and large, funded by U.S. taxpayers.”

Speaking from years of experience at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Cadman says bus checks “have repeatedly proven their worth because they have, often enough, resulted in arrests of previously deported felons making their way from border areas back into the interior, [and]halted migrant trafficking schemes, leading to the rescue of minors or women being forced into sex slavery.”

Greyhound executives, crassly calculating that illegal-alien cash spends the same as anyone else’s, may not care about any of this. But the company’s buses are more like passenger trains and commercial airlines than they are to private motor vehicles. And even those vehicles can be halted for Border Patrol checks anywhere within 100 miles of the border. No warrants required.

Which prompts Cadman to ask: “If such checks are lawful, as the Supreme Court says they are [Ms. Provost’s Fourth Amendment musings notwithstanding], why would a warrant be needed to conduct a cursory check of a public bus getting ready to depart from, say, El Paso to Chicago?”

Good question. It’s one that the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department should vigorously pursue.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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