Amid pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, Concord Coach Lines announced Friday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will no longer be allowed to perform immigration checks on its buses without warrants.
“We have understood the arguments for making this change, but have worked to fully understand the implications that a change would have on law enforcement’s ability to prevent all forms of criminal behavior,” Concord Coach Lines Vice President Benjamin Blunt said in a statement. “We are confident that this is the right thing to do.”
Concord Coach’s decision comes a week after Greyhound changed their policy in response to a border patrol memo. The memo issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that bus companies control whether agents are allowed on board to conduct citizenship checks.
Prior to Greyhound’s announcement last week, representatives from Concord Coach said that it would not put the burden of determining whether a search was legitimate on its staff, according to the Portland Press Herald. In his Friday statement, though, Blunt said that staff will be given cards to communicate the new policy to border officials.
“Both Greyhound and the American Bus Association have recently revised their policies, and while we feel that the safety and security of all Concord Coach Lines passengers should be our primary focus, we also believe it is important to be consistent with our bus industry partners,” Blunt said.
The Maine branch of the ACLU commended Concord Coach’s decision in a Friday statement. “We are thrilled that Concord is joining other bus companies in doing the right thing to protect their passengers,” said Emma Bond, an ACLU of Maine staff attorney.
Meanwhile, New England Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael McCarthy said that the decision could prevent border patrol agents from operating as usual. “Enforcement operations away from the immediate border are performed consistent with law and in direct support of immediate border enforcement efforts,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Such operations function as a means of preventing smuggling and other criminal organizations from exploitation of existing transportation hubs to travel further into the United States.”