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Greyhound settles $2.2 million lawsuit over warrantless WA state immigration sweeps

Sep 27, 2021, 3:57 PM | Updated: Sep 28, 2021, 6:34 am
Greyhound lawsuit...
(Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Subject to a lawsuit from Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Greyhound Lines Inc. will pay $2.2 million in restitution for its compliance in warrantless immigration sweeps conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) out of the Spokane Intermodal Center.

WA AG Ferguson: Greyhound has ‘responsibility’ to stop immigration checks on buses

The payment, settled just one day before the case was slated for trial on Sept. 27, comes as the conclusion to a years-long legal battle. The lawsuit alleged that Greyhound “failed to warn customers of the sweeps, misrepresented its role in allowing the sweeps to occur, and subjected its passengers to discrimination based on race, skin color or national origin,” according to a press release from Ferguson’s office.

The case dates back to April 2020, but Ferguson had urged the company to end the practice in the years prior. Greyhound’s response was refusal, citing disputed policy that requires the company to comply with CBP searches. Ferguson’s office contends that Greyhound’s own materials indicate that immigration sweeps on company property can only be facilitated with the company’s own consent.

“My office first insisted that Greyhound make these corporate reforms in 2019,” reads a statement from Ferguson. “If Greyhound had simply accepted our reasonable demand, they would have avoided a lawsuit. Now, on the eve of trial, Greyhound’s evasion has come to an end, and now it must pay $2 million for the harm it caused Washingtonians. Greyhound has an obligation to its customers — an obligation it cannot set aside so immigration agents can go on fishing expeditions aboard its buses.”

The restitution payments will go back to those passengers affected by the immigration searchers in the form of detention, arrest, deportation, and legal costs. The payment is contingent on the nature and extent of the harm suffered.

The lawsuit encompasses immigration sweeps dating back to 2013. Greyhound transported more than 420,000 passengers either to or from the Spokane Intermodal Center between 2013 and 2020.

In addition to financial restitution, Greyhound will be subject to a number of corporate policy revisions. They are numerous attempts to deny admission of federal immigration officers without warrant, and transparent communication with passengers about such policy.

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Greyhound settles $2.2 million lawsuit over warrantless WA state immigration sweeps