Taking Greyhound? Papers, Please.

Transportation options for undocumented immigrants are becoming narrower and narrower in the U.S. Whatever you may think of immigration policy, there are about 11 million people living in the shadows in this country who have ever fewer ways to get around.

Should immigration agents use buses and trains as a place to catch undocumented immigrants? Photo: ##http://www.mun2.tv/news/real-talk/real-talk-what-should-immigration-reform-in-the-us-include##John Moore/Getty Images##

Immigration agents have been boarding Greyhound buses to nab undocumented immigrants, according to a story in Sunday’s Miami Herald. Anecdotal evidence from immigration attorneys and detainees shows that public transportation is becoming a favorite place for agents to hunt down immigrants:

“I am definitely seeing a large number of people stopped by Greyhound,” said attorney Sara Van Hofwegen… On one recent visit to the BTC in Southwest Broward, Van Hofwegen spoke to 12 detainees. Five of the 12 were apprehended on a Greyhound.

“I’d say Greyhound cases make up about 20 percent of our clients now,’’ said Juliet Williams, an assistant with the law offices of Kantaras & Andreopoulos, with offices in Central Florida. “That is much more than we’ve usually seen.”

She estimates the firm has seen an increase in Greyhound apprehensions of about 25 percent in the past two years.

There is no longer a single state in the union that will issue a drivers license without asking any questions. But has the crackdown over the past few years stopped people from driving? Of course not. It just means that many are driving without accountability, and without paying.

But even if they do stop driving, no matter: ICE will just catch them on buses and trains.

Aside from the fact that deportation scares like this can leave millions of scared people stranded at home without a safe means of transportation, the crackdown could hurt the rest of us, too. It threatens to raise the security environment on buses and trains to the level at airports. It may be less of a convenience issue, since you still don’t have to take off your shoes and arrive an hour early to take a bus — but it still brings the state security apparatus onto our means of getting around.

What do you think? Is it appropriate for immigration agents to be patrolling public transportation asking for papers?

  • Matt

    I don’t think it’s appropriate for anyone to ask for proof of citizenship unless you’re either entering the country or being formally charged with a crime.  What is this… the USSR??

  • icarus12

    I think the answer to your question depends not on whether a person is asked for identity documents on public transit, but rather if he/she is asked for papers anywhere.  If one believes immigration laws may be enforced outside of investigations of felonies or even misdemeanors, then yes, question anyone anywhere.  If one believes immigration laws should be enforced only after an undocumented person is convicted of a serious crime, then no.

    To me, patrolling long-distance buses like Greyhound is another example of how we need national immigration reform.  Let people in or keep them out of the country, but do not turn a blind eye, let them work and prosper, and raise their children as Americans, only to then hunt them sporadically like rabbits when the economy goes sour.

  • Anonymous

    what’s wrong with just having people legally immigrate here?

  • Dudeinho

    I guess Im not riding greyhound last thing  dont need to be harassed seems only latinos are targeted with these raids.
    If they are going to start asking they better ask all the pale faces on the bus as well. If your going to try to enforce these laws. Then stick ICE agents at greyhound stations and ask everyone for ID entering the bus. Make it fair instead of targeting one Ethnicity. Its why the stupid law in Arizona are under fire because they have been sticking native americans in Detention centers because they dont carry identification. There are tons of illegal Asians living in the country as well but you never hear about ICE targeting them

  • HP

    Round em up head em out

  • John

    What part of illegal alien do you you not understand? Illegal immigrations is an affront to the 100 of thousands of people from around the  world who apply for legal entry into this county. People who wait years and can be rejected at any time. When people enter the United States illegally with their families then it is their fault for placing them at risk. Not ICE.

  • Pompisecb

    Yes, we need to start patrolling ever means of transportation as possible. We need to send a message to all illegals in this country. No more illegals.

  • AoT

    I find it rather frustrating that the only long distance transportation form that requires identification is also the one least likely to get you IDed.  Why not start checking IDs at the toll booths on bridges, what if someone is trying to blow up the bridge?

  • Anonymous

    I think that the Obama administration with its less than 40% approval is looking at the fact that 70% (Rassmussen) of US citizens are tired of illegal aliens and want our UNBROKEN immigration laws enforced! Any idiot would see that if you want to get re elected, you had better stop catering to illegal aliens, and be pro enforcement of our laws!

    The asking for papers, we have already lost our freedom when we started accepting the TSA xray of our bodies… It’s already gone…our freedom from illegal search and seizure.

  • Dguruswamy

    I disagree with you that a lack of undocumented aliens to get drivers licenses means they without accountability. In every state, driving without a license is a crime. In my home state, driving without a license is a class 2 misdemeanor offense and that can be punished with up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,500 fine. In addition, if jailed undocumented aliens may be deported after the completion of their jail senence. I believe most undocumented aliens driving without a license all know this and as a result drive MORE carefully than licensed drivers. If they don’t, a simple traffic stop could have severe repercussions.

  • Matt

    @ Amuncat – So… since we have already lost our freedom at airports, we might as well lose it completely?  Seems an odd argument. 

    Also – for a technicality – Obama’s approval rating is 41% right now (not below 40%) – and while that may not be high, he’s polling much higher than anyone in the legislative branch right now.

    @ AoT – So we should also start putting checkpoints everywhere, taking up who knows how many taxpayer dollars and subjecting every U.S. citizen who drives to search without cause?

    @ Several who want “illegals out” – you realize that U.S. citizens – who have done nothing wrong – are also getting asked for proof of citizenship, right?  And if they can’t provide it, that they may be taken to jail until they do (guilty until proven innocent)?  I find that concept completely at odds with our values as a country.

  • Anonymous

    When ICE begins these “Razzias” on Public Transit, things could get very interesting.  Ridership might very well plummet, with resulting drops in cash flow to transit agencies.

  • AoT

    @26d021d00882d81a099f618388acbf70:disqus No, we need to stop being so stupid about this stuff.  It isn’t as if an ID check on a train is really going to do anything.  How is that going to stop someone from pulling off any sort of attack?  I think we need far fewer ID checks.  I’m sick of constantly being asked for my papers.

  • Technically Border Patrol has rights within 100 miles of the border, which is the entire state of Florida. Really we should just stop this pretense and move to a European type system with a national identity card like the passport card (instead of the 51 driver’s licenses in this country) and European style noninvasive security. You have a facade of freedom but really it is security theater.

  • Guest

    tell that to Columbus.

  • g smith

    I think its wrong when border patrol gets in the bus and start asking only hispanic people for there documents in my opinion thats racist…

  • Mexian-or-not-we-are-the-same

    @pompiscb excused your language what makes you more than illegal people !!! Your dam social and a valid driver license excused you when god made us he never made no one different with black white Hispano Asia ect etc …. So why would you make that difference people eat out of welfare and have medicate for all the Hispanic people that work hard true the year and at the time to claim back there income they do t get nothing but all that money and taxes that they pay who keep them USA there not living here for free so I don’t understand what is your problem !!!

  • Mexian-or-not-we-are-the-same

    Stupid idiot what would USA do with out Hispanic !!!! Or illegal like u call them USA goes down with out this hard worker that pay taxes like any one else !!!!!

  • Eric Cramer

    It’s wrong for people to be entering the country illegally, but if they want to keep their noses clean and work for a living I wouldn’t go actively busting them. Ones that are breaking the law and sponging off of handouts I have no sympathy for.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

More Conversation About Not-So-Invisible Bicyclists

|
The other day, we wrote a post in hopes of starting a conversation about the way certain groups of people who ride bicycles — notably, immigrants who ride to work and for work — tend to get overlooked by bicycle advocacy groups and planners. The post (which grew out of an item by Streetsblog Network […]

Do Immigrant Neighborhoods Hold the Secret to Ride-Sharing?

|
When researchers look at the reasons behind the downward trend in driving rates in the U.S., they look at several demographics: young people who prefer urban living and are getting into biking, or baby boomers who have picked a more vibrant place to spend their retirement. Immigrants form another cohort that trends away from single-occupancy […]

Today’s Headlines

|
House Considers Deep Cuts to EPA Budget, Including the Smart Growth Office (SGA) Equipment Manufacturers’ Revenue Proposal Is a Road Gang Member’s Dream (AEM, Infrastructurist) Will Congress Pass a Transportation Bill in September? Or Will the Government Shut Down? (Roll Call) Undocumented Immigrants Finding It Harder to Get Drivers Licenses (StateLine) Transportation Is a Civil […]