Greyhound Bus Lines, historically a strong supporter of civil rights dating as far back as the 1960’s Freedom Riders, is now the defendant in a state consumer protection lawsuit by a California customer over racial profiling and warrantless searches of its buses by border agents. Plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for all California residents, monetary damages for delays caused by the searches, and a court order to bar this practice in the future.
Plaintiff Alleges Consumer Rights Violated
Rocio Cordova, a U.S. citizen, was riding a Greyhound bus from San Diego to Phoenix in November 2017, when her bus was pulled over by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. These officers had no probable cause nor any warrant to pull the bus over or to search the bus. Cordova is claiming that the stop and the search were based on racial profiling, which is an unfair and unlawful business practice, since Greyhound sells its tickets to consumers with the promise not to discriminate based on race, skin color, national origin, or language.
Greyhound Contends It’s Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
This was not the first raid Cordova had experienced, and Greyhound does not contend this was an isolated incident. Though Greyhound does not condone the practice, the company believes that when officers request the bus to pull over, it would risk the safety of all passengers more if drivers refused to comply. Greyhound claims its strategy is to work with Congress to change the laws which allow Border Patrol strong leeway in questioning people within a hundred miles of the border. Until then, Greyhound will continue to pull over and allow Border Agents to board and search, and the company will find itself as defendants in more lawsuits like this.
Border Patrol — the Beneficiary With Clean Hands, for Now…
The Border Patrol has defended this practice, which it claims it has done for decades, under the guise of trying to catch human and drug traffickers. However, the frequency in which these patrols have been happening over the last year has risen dramatically, and their intentions seem clearly to be aimed at immigration issues. Immigration questioning is not just isolated to Greyhound buses, but has also been seen on Amtrak and other bus companies.
In addition, ICE raids have been happening with more frequency, some lawful, and some not. Just this week, Motel 6 agreed to pay almost $8 million to settle a class action lawsuit stemming from employees in two of its Phoenix hotels who illegally handed over guest registries to immigration officials without a warrant.
If you feel you have been the target of racial profiling, contact a civil rights attorney. Legal activists are using various federal and state legal causes of action to put a stop to this practice. A civil rights attorney can best help you decide what would work best for your set of facts, and help you get the justice you deserve.