Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Greyhound has announced it will no longer allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to conduct routine immigration checks on its buses without warrants, reversing a statement two years ago that it would allow them.
Greyhound will also notify the Department of Homeland Security in a letter that "we do not consent to warrantless searches on our buses and in terminal areas that are not open to the public," the company statement said. "Our primary concern is the safety of our customers and team members."
"And we are confident these changes will lead to an improved experience for all parties involved," it added.
The statement also said the company's drivers and employees would receive updated training on the policy change and stickers would be placed on buses to make it clear that it does not consent to such searches.
A Greyhound statement two years ago called on legislation to stop warrantless searches, which it said had a negative impact, but under law were "still legal," so it would allow them.
"We understand our customers' concerns about U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducting warrantless, but still legal, searches on our buses," the October 2018 statement said. "CBP officers do not ask permission to board our buses. We do not want to put our drivers' safety or the safety of our passengers at risk by attempting to stop a federal agent from conducting checks."
The American Civil Liberties Union had pressured Greyhound to change its policy, arguing that CBP agents had a history of boarding buses and subjecting passengers to racial profiling in unjustified interrogations. The nonprofit organization argued that Greyhound actually had a Fourth Amendment right as a private business to deny CBP permission to board and search its buses.
Greyhound had previously argued that case law did not extend the Fourth Amendment's protections to commercial carriers.
"We are pleased to see Greyhound clearly communicate that it does not consent to racial profiling and harassment on its buses," said Andrea Flores, deputy director for policy in the A.C.L.U's equality division. "We will continue to push other transportation companies to follow its leadership."
The practice of allowing CBP agents aboard "falls particularly harshly on passengers of color," who are "reportedly singled out by CBP for questioning and detention," Attorney General of Washington State Bob Ferguson said in a letter to Greyhound last year.