PORTLAND, Maine — A third major U.S. bus carrier will no longer allow immigration checks on their busses.
Concord Coach Lines joins Greyhound and the American Bus Association, limiting warrantless U.S. Customs and Border Protection immigration checks on all busses, effective immediately, the company reported in a statement Friday afternoon.
Greyhound, the nation's largest bus company, announced earlier this month that they would no longer be allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks. Greyhound had previously insisted that even though it didn't like the immigration checks, it had no choice under federal law but to allow them. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Concord Coach Lines leadership echoed much of the same sentiment that Greyhound did, in the release issued late Friday.
"Our employees have been equipped with cards that will communicate this denial to Border Patrol Agents. For reasons of safety, our employees have been instructed not to physically impede an agent from boarding a bus if they have other lawful grounds or otherwise insist on boarding," said Benjamin Blunt, Vice President of Concord Coach Lines.
"This policy change has come after review of an internal CBP memo confirming that agents may not board private buses without the consent of the company. 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.
"The safety of our passengers is not something that we take lightly. 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. We are confident that this is the right thing to do."
The bus companies have struggled with changing rules since the summer of 2019.
NEWS CENTER Maine spoke to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Houlton Sector spokesman Mark Phillips back in July. Phillips told us, "Agents really have no deep-seated desire to violate people's rights."
Phillips said transportation checks of buses have been happening across the state for decades.
He insisted rights protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures limit their scope and protect citizens.
"We are controlled by the Fourth Amendment and are controlled by current and pertinent case law that comes out of the Supreme Court," Phillips said.
Concord Coach Lines spokesperson declined to comment on camera but said passenger safety is the top priority.