Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Join as a sustainer and support independent local news for your community.

ACLU of Maine Joins Effort to Stop Border Agents from Boarding Buses

The ACLU of Maine is one of 10 ACLU affiliates from around the country sending a letter to Greyhound Lines, an intercity bus common carrier, this week.

The letter asks bus executives to deny U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents' requests to board coaches to carry out passenger checks and searches:

“Businesses in this country have just as much responsibility as citizens to protect our values and make sure that we're all following the constitution,” the letter states.

In January the ACLU of Maine says it became aware that agents were boarding buses in the Bangor area and interrogating passengers about their citizenship status.

“They shouldn't be in the business of subjecting passengers to intimidating interrogations, suspicionless searches, warrantless arrests, or threats of deportation,” says Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine, Zach Heiden.

Heiden says court decisions surrounding the Fourth Amendment, which provides protections against unreasonable search and seizure, indicate that bus companies like Greyhound need not comply with such requests without warrant or probable cause.

“Bus companies that are allowing customs and border protection to board their buses and use their property are facilitating violations of people's civil liberties,” he says.

Other signatories include the ACLU affiliates in California, Texas, Washington, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida and Arizona.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in a statement that the checks are a vital part of its national security efforts, designed to prevent smuggling and criminal organizations from exploiting transportation hubs and traveling to the interior United States. These checks often occur within 100 miles of an international border, which encompasses the entire state of Maine.

Copyright 2018 Maine Public

Jennifer Mitchell studied Music, English and Anthropology at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio. She has worked as News Director for Peninsula Public Radio in Homer, Alaska, and served as news producer in Bangor for Maine Public Radio in 2004. Most recently, she spent four years working in South Africa as a producer, as well as classical music presenter in Cape Town.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.