Supporting Yakima's Immigrant Communities  |  News  |  Contact Us
Supporting Yakima's Immigrant Communities  |  News  |  Contact Us

CBP and Bus Travel

This holiday and New Years season will bring many families traveling long distances to join loved ones in celebration. Taking time to enjoy family is one of the most cherished parts of the holiday season and for this reason we believe that families should be aware of their rights while traveling, particularly on long range private and public bus services, such as the Greyhound, Jefferson Lines, and Northwestern Trailways.

For many years, immigration lawyers have heard about the prevalence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Patrol officers on buses, particularly near the Canadian Border and in and around Spokane.  Earlier this year the Spokane City Council prohibited those agencies from approaching people on the city owned “Intermodal” bus station, however we are well aware that immigration law enforcement encounters continue to happen at that station and many others.

Understanding a few principles in law is important to the overall conversation. Generally speaking, persons in the United States have a Constitutional right to travel uninhibited in between states. Civil rights law prohibits common carriers, such as Greyhound, from discriminating on the basis of race or national origin. Indeed, Greyhound even has a Limited English Proficiency Plan. Nevertheless, government officers also have the right to approach people in public spaces and ask voluntary questions. The Customs and Border Patrol has the right to conduct its operations within 100 miles of any US Border, which includes the ocean coastal areas, meaning they have the right to stop and board a bus without a warrant and ask people voluntary questions.

Here are your rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • When in doubt, do not answer a question about your citizenship, immigration status or country of birth
  • Do not sign paperwork without the advice of a lawyer
  • If you are an immigrant and have a Legal Permanent Residence Card or other legal status, you are required to provide it, but you do not have to answer questions. Never show a false document.
  • You have the right to ask agents if you are being detained and why
  • You can refuse a search of your belongings by saying “I do not consent to a search.”
  • You have the right to record video or audio of immigration authorities, but not to interfere with their activities.
  • If you would prefer not to speak, hand the officer a copy of the Red Card.

If you are traveling on a Greyhound bus, there is a toll-free number where you can call to report ICE/CBP/Immigration actions – 214-849-2500.  If you are riding on another carrier, you should call their customer service line. Also alert the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network line at 1-844-724-3737.