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FLORIDA – Border Patrol agents boarded a Greyhound bus on Friday to ask passengers for documentation in Ft. Lauderdale on a bus en route to Miami from Orlando; during the stop a black woman of Caribbean descent was asked to remove her belongings and leave the bus. Family members have contacted the Florida Immigrant Coalition from Jamaica saying that they have not heard from her since she boarded the bus on Friday. The passenger that captured the video, who prefers not to share her name with media for fear of retaliation, shared with us that the bus driver lied to the passengers saying that “security” was coming onto the bus for a routine inspection. Instead, Customs and Border Patrol agents entered and began demanding that the passengers demonstrate proof of citizenship.
Passengers were shocked that their citizenship would be questioned and proof of citizenship was being required of them for a local bus route from Orlando to south Florida, arguing that they did not carry those documents with them because their travels did not include the crossing of any federal borders. Greyhound officials say they have been told by Border Patrol officials that they have jurisdiction within 100 miles of the ocean, but that applies to the entire state of Florida, and these repetitive checkpoints on Greyhound buses across the state have been scaring away customers and causing waves of insecurity among minorities who don’t want to be racially profiled or harassed just for riding a bus.
The following is a statement from the daughter in-law of the woman removed from the Greyhound:
My mother-in-law came to visit me last week. She’s my daughter’s grandmother and this was the first time meeting each other. I dropped her off at the Greyhound bus stop Friday morning and never got word of her arrival. I’m very concerned about these officers questioning her without a lawyer present.
The following is a statement from Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, Membership Director for Florida Immigrant Coalition:
Incidents like these erode public trust in police and authority figures whose job is to serve and protect our communities. 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 with questions transgress their civil liberties . The people of Florida deserve to ride their local bus transportation in peace without having to carry a birth certificate or passport to go to Disney world, visit family, or commute for work. This incident is precisely why we call on our state Senators to oppose House Bill 9 approved in the Florida House of Representatives on January 12. HB9 would mandate that all state and municipal employees collaborate with immigration officials in racial profiling and deportation operations like this one. We are in communication with the family of the woman in the video who border patrol pulled off the bus and has since gone missing to determine her whereabouts and well-being.