A video posted by the Florida Immigration Coalition of a woman being arrested on board a Greyhound bus is now causing an uproar amongst civil liberties advocates. Several Border Patrol and Customs agents boarded a bus that was stopped at a station in Fort Lauderdale and demanded that all of the passengers present their proof of citizenship. The bus driver announced that the inspection was part of a “routine” security check and that everyone was required to comply.
One of the passengers on board the bus that was bound for Miami recorded the entire inspection, which included the arrest of a woman who reportedly had an expired tourist visa. According to a report from NBC, the woman was apparently from Jamaica and was in the country to visit her granddaughter for the first time. The woman’s daughter-in-law mentioned in a statement that she remembered dropping her off at the bus station on Friday. However, she got increasingly concerned when she didn’t get any word of her arrival. Relatives of the woman also expressed their concern regarding how the arrest was made. The video that was uploaded on Twitter by the Florida Immigration Coalition currently has around 2.36 million views and almost 35,000 retweets.
.@CustomsBorder got on a Greyhound bus yesterday at 4:30pm in Fort Lauderdale and asked every passenger for their papers and to prove citizenship. Proof of citizenship is NOT required to ride a bus! For more information about your rights, call our hotline???? 1-888-600-5762 pic.twitter.com/rWJn61o8VP— FLImmigrantCoalition (@FLImmigrant) January 20, 2018
Following the spread of the arrest video, the United States Border Patrol issued a statement and confirmed that the woman in the video is currently detained at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach. The agency’s statement also clarified that its agents do not have any geographical restrictions and that they are allowed by law to search any vehicle within 100 miles of its borders for any undocumented immigrants. Greyhound Lines also issued its own statement and explained that they are required to comply with all federal, state, and local laws, which includes allowing agents to board its buses and enter its stations.
Despite the valid explanations provided by both the bus company and the United States Border Patrol, immigration advocates are now saying that the arrest on board the bus may have been a bit extreme. The mostly youth-led pro-immigration group United We Dream had even mentioned in a public statement that Trump’s crackdown is slowly resulting in the persecution of immigrants within the country. Similarly, the American Civil Liberties Union disapproved of how the Border Patrol agents had handled the situation and called the entire bus arrest as “needless and excessive.”
This immigration enforcement on a Greyhound bus is needless and excessive. Immigrants have rights in this country and @CustomsBorder should be held accountable when they ignore that. https://t.co/l6b1cfTNYq— ACLU (@ACLU) January 23, 2018
Florida Immigrant Coalition membership director, Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, explained that incidents like these are actually detrimental in raising the public’s trust towards government authorities. Her group believes that the agents should have had the proper warrants and that they should not have been allowed to board the bus in the first place since it was basically private property.