Video: Another South Florida Resident Dragged Off Greyhound Bus by Border Agents

Video: Another South Florida Resident Dragged Off Greyhound Bus by Border Agents
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Last week, a video went viral showing a Jamaican-born grandmother being hauled off a Greyhound bus at a Fort Lauderdale station. The woman was returning from visiting her grandchild for the first time in Orlando, according to activists who mounted a campaign to pressure the bus line to stop granting federal agents access to randomly demand papers from its customers.

If either Greyhound or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) was swayed by the outrage over that arrest, it didn't stop the exact same thing from happening yesterday at the very same bus station.

A new video shows CPB agents hauling a man in handcuffs off a Greyhound in Fort Lauderdale after demanding papers from passengers on the bus. The Trinidad-born man has lived in Miami for more than 12 years with no criminal record and was headed to Fort Myers to see his best friend, according to the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), which shared the video.

“This situation is outrageous," L.A. Brickner, the man's friend in Fort Myers, says in a statement provided by FLIC. "I can’t imagine being asked for papers while riding a bus in this country. It feels like Nazi Germany."

A CPB spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the video. Greyhound officials say they have no choice but to cooperate with the feds, who claim jurisdiction to demand proof of citizenship anywhere within 100 miles of a border — a leeway that includes virtually all of Florida.

But activists say the latest video is further proof that those rules are inhumane and target productive, nonviolent residents who are simply trying to move around the state.

The man in the video, whom activists declined to identify by name until they can speak to him in custody, moved to Miami from Trinidad when he was 19, about 12 years ago, says Elizabeth Fernandez, a spokesperson for FLIC.

He had no criminal record and owns a business in Miami Beach, and could face persecution in Trinidad if he were deported. The man was taken to Krome Service Processing Center and transferred to the Broward Transitional Center, where he was told he could face up to a year in custody before learning his fate.

"This was just a complete shock to him," Fernandez says. "This came totally out of nowhere."

As New Times noted earlier this week, federal immigration raids on Greyhound buses are not new. In 2011, the Miami Herald detailed a spike in arrests on the bus line in South Florida and concerns from immigration attorneys about the feds' tactics.

But national concern over the crackdowns has spiked as the federal government has shut down and the Trump administration continues using millions of Dreamers and other undocumented residents as bargaining chips in its push for a border wall.

Fernandez's group has started a petition calling for Greyhound to stop giving CPB full access to demand papers from its customers, and has gathered 120 signatures to date. She says no one has been able to contact the man arrested yesterday since he was taken into federal custody.

"Is riding the bus while brown a new crime?" Brickner asks. "He pays taxes, he’s a business owner, and he’s facing terrible persecution back in Trinidad.”
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink