Legal? Border Patrol agents board bus and ask for papers

The Border Patrol’s Miami section confirmed Monday: Yes, that’s us, and we can do that.

By David J. Neal / Miami Herald

MIAMI — U.S. Border Patrol agents took someone off a Greyhound bus outside the Fort Lauderdale station after allegedly asking everyone on board for proof of citizenship, according to witness video and immigration advocates.

The Border Patrol’s Miami section confirmed Monday: Yes, that’s us, and we can do that.

The email didn’t address whether or not the agents asked everyone on board for proof of citizenship, but named parts of federal law that give vast powers to Border Patrol agents.

The video triggered response among those concerned with the fate of DACA and other immigration policies, as well as people concerned about an authoritarian turn.

A passenger on the Greyhound bus took video of Friday’s incident on the Orlando-to-Miami route. It was posted Saturday to the Florida Immigration Coalition’s Twitter page.

The Border Patrol confirmed that a woman on the bus had an expired tourist visa and was arrested. The agency issued this statement about the incident:

“On (Friday), while performing an immigration inspection at a Ft. Lauderdale bus station, Border Patrol agents identified a passenger who was illegally residing in the United States. The subject was an adult female that had overstayed her tourist visa. She was arrested and transported to the Dania Beach Border Patrol station for further investigation and later turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO) for removal proceedings.”

According to the Florida Immigration Coalition, the woman is from Jamaica and was visiting her granddaughter for the first time.

“Without an official judicial warrant, Border Patrol agents should not be permitted to board the private property of the Greyhound corporation to harass its customers and violate their civil liberties,” read a statement from Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, membership director for the immigration advocacy group. “Floridians deserve to ride a bus in peace without having to carry a birth certificate or passport to go to Disney World, visit family, or commute for work.”

But what might appear to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, has been common practice for years.

In a 2005 Miami Herald story on Luis Posada Carriles, the anti-Castro militant tells how he acted like a befuddled old man to fool agents doing a spot check on a Greyhound bus.

“U.S. Border Patrol officers periodically board interstate buses and trains to check the immigration papers of foreign nationals,” according to the article.

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