By Dan Bodine
This story about immigration checks should be filed under “Let’s celebrate a citizen’s rights win!” Pure and Simple now! If you’re in a vehicle and “The Law” wants to shake you down, they’d better have a PC (probable cause) to approach you or a warrant in their hands one! What they did was illegal!
But for how long — 70-80-more years? — all of us as American citizens have turned blind eyes to these onboard immigration checks!
Why? Does it take the proverbial Act of Congress to tell us as humans, we have inalienable rights — i.e., against unlawful searches? Or is exercising them too much trouble? Living itself is enough trouble! Why stir up more?
I witnessed some of these, yes. As an old beat-up journalist moonlighting as a small border town’s sole judge, I did. Routinely saw it! And sensed it was illegal. But said nothing.
Couple of years into this, as a passenger on this same bus line into and out of Presidio (not Greyhound) — going to Odessa to bring back a pickup, once — I underwent an immigration check myself.
“Are you an American citizen?”
I politely showed the agents my identifications.
But why didn’t I say something about this practice then? If I felt it was illegal?
Who, me?! Pawdnuh, I started this new life I’m in now escaping alcohol, divorce and bankruptcy — all by running off to Presidio TX, my status lower ‘n an ol’ drunk grubworm just wanting to get enough vittles to stay alive.
ME, stir up some dust?!! Uh, uh!
Greyhound, often written Greyhound Bus Lines — the nation’s largest bus lines — forever it seems has allowed federal immigration checks — e.g., customs inspectors in or near border cities to board carriers and check passengers’ identities. Looking for people in the country illegally, of course.
No more though! It’s against the law! It’s demeaning to many innocent citizens! And the bus line finally has caved to pressure from civil liberties groups.
The company announced Friday it was notifying the federal agencies such officers would no longer be able to board buses and do immigration checks without legitimate reason.
No ax to grind here concerning U.S. border patrolmen or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspectors enforcing the laws of our country. Worked with them for almost 20 years in Presidio — and on the whole, they’re respectable, front-line defense personnel for us! Good people.
I’m just glad Grayhound finally bowed its neck and pointed out one old practice they don’t have a right to: You ain’t got a right to board our buses and hassle our innocent passengers without due process! It’s a civil rights violation under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.
Hallalujua enough people finally stood up! Constitutional rights are a lot like tax deductions — if not used, some unrestrained presidential administration eventually can take them away.
Resisting our current whack-a-mole political climate, and thus not naming any names. But yes, authoritarians rise in politics. Even in America.
So thank you, Greyhound!
— 30 —