The Washington Attorney General sued Greyhound on behalf of people detained or arrested by the Border Patrol. The claims process is now open.
Edited to include a link to a Spanish-language version of the press release
Attorney General Bob Ferguson today opened up the claims process for a $2.2 million dollar settlement reached in a lawsuit the state brought against Greyhound for allowing US Customs and Border Patrol to conduct sweeps at the Spokane Intermodal center.
The AG’s office says the settlement is available to “Greyhound passengers detained, arrested or deported after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents approached them, or boarded their Greyhound bus, at the Spokane Intermodal Center are eligible for a share of $2.2 million”
The amount of money available to each person will be based on the number of claims and “the severity of harm.”
This is the latest and potentially final chapter in a long-running saga of the Border Patrol operating with impunity in Spokane since at least 2013, according to the AG’s office:
Since at least 2013, Greyhound allowed CBP agents to board its buses to conduct warrantless and suspicionless immigration sweeps. 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.
Local activists like David Brookbank had been documenting the Border Patrol sweeps in Spokane for years, but things came to a head in 2018.
In May of that year, The Inlander reported that City Council declined to consider the Intermodal Center as the site of a combined social services center on the grounds that the Border Patrol presence would make people of color feel unsafe. In June, a Mexican national legally in the country filed suit against the agency for $75,000. Local protests reached their peak that August, and by October, the Spokane City Council passed a law restricting Border Patrol from entering the Intermodal Center and other city property whose access is restricted without the written consent of the Mayor. The Condon administration at the time declined to enforce the law, and the practice continued.
The Border Patrol’s sweeps in Spokane were exposed to national scrutiny just months later, in January 2019, when Portland-based comedian Mohanad Elshieky — a Libyan asylum seeker who came to the U.S. in 2014 under a J1 visa— was detained and interrogated after playing a gig in Pullman. Elshieky filed suit against the agency. Elshieky moved to New York in 2019 to work on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and his lawsuit was settled in April 2021.
The national scrutiny didn’t curb the practice. Indeed, CBP seems to have gotten more active. In 2018, The Spokesman reported that the agency detained 200 people in Spokane “in under 5 years.” The next year, The Intercept reported that Border Patrol arrested 71 people in Spokane in 2019 alone.
In a change of tactic, Ferguson’s office filed suit against Greyhound for illegally allowing CBP access to its busses in April 2020 and the company settled this September, creating the $2.2 million pot for victims and paving the way for this claims process.
In addition to the monetary pay out, Greyhound has agreed to a decently long list of reforms to its practices across Washington State (see below). Border Patrol officially ended sweeps in Spokane this October.
There are four ways to submit claims:
- Fill out the online form in English or Spanish at atg.wa.gov/greyhound
- Email the completed form to Greyhound@atg.wa.gov
- Message the completed form using WhatsApp to 206-518-2723
Mail the completed form to:
- Washington State Greyhound Claims c/o Greyhound Team
800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98104The Attorney General’s Office is not part of the federal government and submitting a claim does not require you to disclose your immigration status or pay a fee. The Attorney General’s Office will not ask about immigration status.
The amount of restitution each individual receives will depend on the number of claims and the severity of harms suffered due to Greyhound’s unlawful conduct.
Claims are due by March 31, 2022. After reviewing the claims, and following up for additional information as necessary, the office expects to begin issuing checks by summer of 2022.
People with questions can contact the Attorney General’s Office by phone at 1-833-660-4877 (choose option 8 from the main menu), or by email at Greyhound@atg.wa.gov
Greyhound reforms as a result of AG’s civil rights lawsuit
In addition to paying $2.2 million, Greyhound is also required to:
- Create a clear corporate policy that denies CBP agents permission to board its buses without warrants or reasonable suspicion in the State of Washington.
- Provide training for its drivers and employees on how to communicate its corporate policy to CBP agents.
- Issue a public statement, at minimum in English and Spanish, clarifying that Greyhound does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion. It must put this statement on its website and communicate it to federal immigration law enforcement agencies and the City of Spokane, which owns the Intermodal Center.
- Place stickers on or near the front door of its buses stating that it does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses without a warrant or reasonable suspicion.
- Provide placards for its drivers to give to immigration agents stating that Greyhound does not consent to immigration agents boarding its buses to conduct warrantless or suspicionless searches.
- Provide and display adequate notice to its customers of the risks of warrantless and suspicionless searches in the State of Washington wherever it sells bus tickets.
- Implement a complaint procedure for passengers who want to complain about the presence of immigration agents on Greyhound buses or at Greyhound bus stations, and notify the Attorney General’s Office of any such complaints received.
- Provide semi-annual reports to the Attorney General’s Office, including reporting whether immigration agents have boarded Greyhound buses in the State of Washington.