Nicholas K. Geranios / AP
SPOKANE, Wash .– Greyhound Lines Inc. will pay $ 2.2 million to settle a lawsuit over the bus line’s practice of allowing U.S. customs and border protection officers to board its buses in the Washington state to conduct warrantless immigration sweeps, the state attorney general said on Monday.
The bus company failed to warn customers of the sweeps, distorted its role in allowing sweeps and discriminated against its passengers on the basis of skin color or national origin, said Attorney General Bob Ferguson .
The money will provide restitution to passengers who were detained, arrested or deported after immigration officials boarded buses at the Spokane Intermodal Center. The amount of restitution each individual receives will depend on the number of claims and the severity of the harm suffered as a result of Greyhound’s conduct, Ferguson said.
“Greyhound has an obligation to its customers – an obligation that it cannot set aside so that immigration officers can go on a fishing expedition aboard its buses,” Ferguson said in a press release.
Dallas-based Greyhound issued a brief statement saying he was happy with the settlement.
“By accepting the Consent Order, we will be communicating to our customers more broadly the policies and procedures we already have in place to serve the citizens of Washington State,” the bus company said.
The settlement was filed in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday, the day the trial was due to begin.
“My office first insisted that Greyhound make these corporate reforms in 2019,” Ferguson said. “If Greyhound had simply accepted our reasonable request, they would have avoided a trial.”
Under the regulations, Greyhound is also required to:
– Create a corporate policy that denies CBP agents permission to board its buses in Washington State without warrant or reasonable suspicion.
– Issue a public statement, in English and Spanish, clarifying that Greyhound does not consent to immigration officers boarding its buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion.
– Place stickers on or near the front door of his buses indicating that he does not allow immigration officers to board his buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion.
The lawsuit was filed in April 2020, alleging that Greyhound had allowed sweeps on its buses since at least 2013. Greyhound publicly acknowledged the practice in 2018.
During the sweeps, Hispanics and other passengers of color were subjected to invasive interrogations by armed federal agents and often had to get off the bus, Ferguson said. CBP officers have sometimes detained or arrested passengers, he said.
For years, Greyhound has argued that it has a legal obligation to allow border patrol officers to board its buses. But in February 2020, a memo from Carla Provost, then head of the U.S. Border Patrol, confirmed Ferguson’s claim that CBP officers cannot conduct warrantless immigration scans on buses that ” with the consent of the owner or employees of the company.