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Taking Greyhound? Papers, Please.

11:18 AM PDT on August 16, 2011

Transportation options for undocumented immigrants are becoming narrower and narrower in the U.S. Whatever you may think of immigration policy, there are about 11 million people living in the shadows in this country who have ever fewer ways to get around.

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Immigration agents have been boarding Greyhound buses to nab undocumented immigrants, according to a story in Sunday's Miami Herald. Anecdotal evidence from immigration attorneys and detainees shows that public transportation is becoming a favorite place for agents to hunt down immigrants:

“I am definitely seeing a large number of people stopped by Greyhound,” said attorney Sara Van Hofwegen... On one recent visit to the BTC in Southwest Broward, Van Hofwegen spoke to 12 detainees. Five of the 12 were apprehended on a Greyhound.

“I’d say Greyhound cases make up about 20 percent of our clients now,’’ said Juliet Williams, an assistant with the law offices of Kantaras & Andreopoulos, with offices in Central Florida. “That is much more than we’ve usually seen.”

She estimates the firm has seen an increase in Greyhound apprehensions of about 25 percent in the past two years.

There is no longer a single state in the union that will issue a drivers license without asking any questions. But has the crackdown over the past few years stopped people from driving? Of course not. It just means that many are driving without accountability, and without paying.

But even if they do stop driving, no matter: ICE will just catch them on buses and trains.

Aside from the fact that deportation scares like this can leave millions of scared people stranded at home without a safe means of transportation, the crackdown could hurt the rest of us, too. It threatens to raise the security environment on buses and trains to the level at airports. It may be less of a convenience issue, since you still don't have to take off your shoes and arrive an hour early to take a bus -- but it still brings the state security apparatus onto our means of getting around.

What do you think? Is it appropriate for immigration agents to be patrolling public transportation asking for papers?

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