FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, January 20th, 2018
Contact: Melissa Taveras, firstname.lastname@example.org, 786.663.6690
Isabel Sousa, IsabelSousa@floridaimmigrant.org, 305.833.0267
Caribbean woman pulled off bus by agents on Friday was detained and is being held at detention center
You can view the video on our Facebook Page; please courtesy Florida Immigrant Coalition 1-888-600-5762
FLORIDA– Border Patrol agents boarded a Greyhound bus on Friday to ask passengers for documentation in a Ft. Lauderdale route to Miami from Orlando; during the stop a black woman of Caribbean descent was asked to leave her belongings and was detained. Family members from Jamaica have contacted the Florida Immigrant Coalition and told us that they have not heard from her since Friday. The passenger that captured the video, who prefers not to share her name due to fear of retaliation, shared that the bus driver lied to the passengers by saying that “security” was coming onto the bus for a routine inspection. Instead, Customs and Border Patrol agents entered and demanded that passengers demonstrate proof of citizenship.
Passengers were shocked that their citizenship would be questioned and proof of citizenship was being required for a local bus route from Orlando to south Florida, arguing that they did not carry those documents 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, which applies to the entire state of Florida, and these repetitive checkpoints on Greyhound buses across the state have been scaring away customers and causing insecurity among people 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 and violate their civil liberties . 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. This is why we call on our state Senators to oppose House Bill 9, which was 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. She has since gone missing and we are working to determine her whereabouts and well-being.
Any immigrant that wants more information about their constitutional rights when in contact with law enforcement or border patrol should call our hotline to review these rights in Spanish, English, and Kreyol: 1-888-600-5762
The Florida Immigrant Coalition is a statewide alliance of over 60 member organizations, including farmworkers, students, service providers, grassroots organizations and legal advocates, who come together for the fair treatment of all people.