There is a saying in Spanish: “Tanto peca el que mata la vaca, como el que agarra la pata.” Meaning the person who helps hold down the cow is just as culpable as the person who is actually killing it. It’s something that I think about every time I hear about people calling in tips to the immigration police. Making a quick phone call may seem harmless but it’s enough to condemn someone to months of incarceration at best or death at worst.
Earlier this year Tiana Smalls went viral for posting her harrowing stand against ICE agents who boarded a Greyhound bus she was riding. She documented just how flagrantly they racially profile Latinx and violate people’s rights and bravely stood up for the Spanish speakers on the bus by informing them that ICE had no right to “citizen check” them. Motel 6, Nike, Amazon have also all been super helpful when ICE decided to target their immigrant and Latinx customers.
Now the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, Color of Change, is calling for a boycott of Greyhound until they exercise their ability to deny warrantless searches on their buses by CBP agents. According to the ACLU “Greyhound has a Fourth Amendment right to deny CBP permission to board and search its buses without a judicial warrant.” They simply choose not to. There are countless recorded incidents of ICE agents trampling all over the constitutional rights of people who were literally minding their own business and breaking no laws. It’s become such a widespread issue that Hasan Minhaj spent a whole episode of his Netflix show Patriot Act talking about it. Recently, a Jamaican grandma was detained on a Greyhound bus in Orlando while she was en route to her family. No one notified them that she was in custody and they had no idea where she was for days.
ICE’s free reign on Greyhound Buses endangers the millions of Americans that don’t have a government-issued ID. In 2012 New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice report put the figure of American’s without ID at around 3 million. At the rate ICE is “accidentally” doling out deportation orders it’s definitely something to be worried about. Take the case of Philadelphia-born Peter Sean Brown who was nearly deported to Jamaica even though he produced a birth certificate proving his citizenship. In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, it’s stated that “despite his repeated protests to multiple jail officers, his offer to produce proof, and the jail’s own records, the sheriff’s office held Mr. Brown so that ICE could deport him to Jamaica — a country where he has never lived and knows no one.”
By creating an unchecked environment for ICE to run wild, Greyhound is endangering all immigrants and all Black and Brown people. They are also complicit in placing people of color in the prison-to-deportation pipeline and in separating children from their parents. We shouldn’t let people who gleefully shoot children with tear gas, arrest fathers as they drop their kids off at school and shoot children in the back anywhere near our constitutional rights and they damn sure shouldn’t be dragging old ladies from their bus seats. You can join Color of Change’s boycott by signing their petition here and follow the conversation on social via the #TransportationNotDeportation hashtag.