Attorney General of Washington state, Bob Ferguson, announced on Monday that the bus line failed to warn the passengers of the sweeps by the US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agents on its buses and that it “misrepresented its role in allowing the sweeps to occur and subjected its passengers to discrimination based on race, skin colour or national origin.”
In a statement by Mr Ferguson, the attorney general said that the payment by the bus line — that provides intercity bus transportation services across North America — shall be used to provide restitution to those passengers who were “detained, arrested, or deported after immigration agents boarded their bus at the Spokane Intermodal Center.”
It, however, said that the amount of restitution each individual receives will depend on the “number of claims” and the severity of harms suffered due to Greyhound’s conduct.
Mr Ferguson filed the lawsuit against Greyhound in April last year claiming that the bus transportation company allowed US Customs & Protection agents to sweep in on its buses since 2013. Greyhound publicly acknowledged the sweeps in 2018 and said that it harms the passengers.
Mr Ferguson said on Monday that during these sweeps, “Latinx and other passengers of colour are subjected to invasive questioning by armed federal agents and are often required to get off the bus.”
If you or a family member were detained, arrested or deported after immigration agents boarded your Greyhound bus at the Spokane Intermodal Center, please contact us at 1-833-660-4877, and choose option 8 from the main menu, or by email at Greyhound@atg.wa.gov, to submit a claim.
— Washington State Attorney General (@AGOWA) September 27, 2021
CBP agents sometimes also detain or arrest passengers, or go through their luggage, Mr Ferguson said.
Greyhound has transported more than 420,000 passengers to or from the Spokane Intermodal Center between 2013 and 2020, the State Attorney said. He added: “Greyhound’s conduct caused passengers to experience travel delays, missed connections, alarm, fear, questioning, search, and detention by federal immigration officials, and/or discrimination on the basis of race, colour and/or national origin.”
Earlier this year in March, Judge Maryann C. Moreno had denied the bus line's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit. In her ruling, she had rejected Greyhound’s argument that the company had no choice but to allow federal agents to board its buses and conduct the sweeps.
Mr Ferguson told the media that “Greyhound has an obligation to its customers — an obligation it cannot set aside so immigration agents can go on fishing expeditions aboard its buses.”
Besides paying the $2.2 million to end the lawsuit, Greyhound is also supposed to change its policy and deny CBP agents permission to board its buses without warrants or “reasonable suspicion” in Washington state.
The statement by Attorney General also mentioned that all drivers with Greyhound shall have to undergo special training so they are able to communicate its corporate policy to the federal agents.
Besides other demands by the state attorney, Greyhound will now have to provide semi-annual reports to the Attorney General’s Office, including reporting whether immigration agents have boarded Greyhound buses in the State of Washington.
The Dallas-based Greyhound Lines Inc issued a statement over the settlement. It said: “By agreeing to the consent decree, we will more extensively communicate to our customers the policies and procedures we already have in place to serve the citizens of Washington state.”
The settlement was filed in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday, the day the trial was supposed to begin.