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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.