Greyhound to Pay $2.2M to Settle Lawsuit Over Immigration Sweeps on Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc. agreed to pay $2.2 million in a settlement for a lawsuit that alleged the company permitted U.S. Customs & Border Protections workers to operate warrantless immigration sweeps on its buses in Washington state, the state attorney general said Monday. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that Greyhound did not warn customers of the immigrations sweeps, misstated its role in permitting agents to conduct the sweeps and facilitated the discrimination of its passengers based on their skin color or national origin.

The $2.2 million in settlement funds will act as repayment for Greyhound customers who were detained, arrested or even deported after the company allowed border agents to board buses at the Spokane Intermodal Center, the AP reported. The amount provided to each affected customer will vary based on the number of claims and austerity of damage caused by Greyhound's actions, Ferguson said.

"Greyhound has an obligation to its customers—an obligation it cannot set aside so immigration agents can go on fishing expeditions aboard its buses," Ferguson said in a press release.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Demonstrations Against Bus Sweeps
Greyhound Lines Inc. agreed to pay $2.2 million in a settlement for a lawsuit that alleged the company permitted U.S. Customs & Border Protections workers to operate warrantless immigration sweeps on its buses in Washington state. Demonstrators are seen holding signs in a protest to denounce Greyhound's collaboration with ICE on August 23, 2019 in New York. Luis Boza/Corbis via Getty Images

Greyhound, based in Dallas, issued a brief statement saying it was pleased with the settlement.

"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 bus company said.

The settlement was filed in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday, the day the trial was set to begin.

"My office first insisted that Greyhound make these corporate reforms in 2019," Ferguson said. "If Greyhound had simply accepted our reasonable demand, they would have avoided a lawsuit."

Under the settlement, Greyhound is also required to:

—Create a corporate policy that denies CBP agents permission to board its buses in Washington state without warrants or reasonable suspicion.

—Issue a public statement, in English and Spanish, clarifying that Greyhound does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion.

—Place stickers on or near the front door of its buses stating that it does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion.

The lawsuit was filed in April 2020, alleging that Greyhound allowed the sweeps aboard its buses since at least 2013. Greyhound publicly acknowledged the practice in 2018.

During the sweeps, Hispanic people and other passengers of color were subjected to invasive questioning by armed federal agents and were often required to get off the bus, Ferguson said. CBP agents sometimes detained or arrested passengers, he said.

For years, Greyhound contended it was legally required to allow Border Patrol agents to board its buses. But in February 2020, a memo from then-U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost confirmed Ferguson's contention that CBP agents can only perform warrantless immigration sweeps on board buses with the consent of the company's owner or employees.

Greyhound Bus Station
The lawsuit against Greyhound was filed in April 2020, alleging the company allowed the immigration sweeps aboard its buses since at least 2013. The exterior view of the Greyhound bus station is seen in Jackson, Mississippi, January 12, 2014. Paul Natkin/Getty Images