Activists protest immigration arrests on Amtrak, Greyhound

On April 2, several dozen demonstrators gathered in front of Penn Station in Manhattan to protest the collaboration of the Amtrak train company with border and immigration agents who arrest passengers traveling between US cities. With chants of “transportation, not deportation!” and “immigrant rights are human rights,” the protesters then marched to Port Authority to condemn the Greyhound bus company’s collaboration with similar immigration sweeps.

The protest was organized by Families for Freedom, a New York-based multi-ethnic defense network by and for immigrants facing and fighting deportation. The protesters are demanding that Amtrak and Greyhound at the very least warn passengers about the raids in advance, publicly apologize and provide ticket refunds to those who have been arrested. (El Diario-La Prensa, NY, April 3; demonstration announcement from Families for Freedom, received via e-mail, March 26; Immigration News Briefs editor’s first-hand experience of demonstration, April 2)

A woman named Sonia, who spoke at the demonstration, said she was arrested by immigration officials along with her husband and two sons while returning to New York City from Chicago on Amtrak as the train passed through upstate New York. She spoke about the terror of being grilled by immigration officials and separated from her family. “This
is the last thing I expected coming home. They seemed to be approaching all of the Latinos on the train and asking them for papers. One family even had work permits but immigration officials told them that this was not enough and they were detained also. I’m a customer, I paid just like everyone else, but my family and I were treated like we are less than human beings,” Sonia said. After being detained at the Amtrak station, Sonia and her 17-year-old son were released while her husband and 18-year-old son were detained at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility for several days before being freed on bond. (Families for Freedom press release, April 2; EFE, April 2)

Amtrak has agreed to cooperate with border inspections on a random basis within 75 miles of the border, said Cliff Cole, a spokesperson for the company. “We’re merely facilitating their request to board the train,” he said of the Border Patrol agents. The train between Chicago and New York, called the Lakeshore Limited, passes within 75 miles of the border, he said. Greyhound also said it simply complies with law enforcement requests, be it local, state or federal. “We are under no obligation to inform customers of law enforcement activity at any time,” said Greyhound spokesperson Dustin Clark.

Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, said the stops are just part of routine practice that has gotten more frequent as the agency has tripled its number of agents along the Canadian border over the past few years. (New York Times Cityroom blog, April 2)

From Immigration News Briefs, April 6

See our last post on the politics of immigration.

  1. “I’m just in the Country
    “I’m just in the Country “Illegally” Why shouldn’t I be afforded the same rights as real citizens and legal residents of the USA”

    If a an Illegal Alien is just a undocumented Immigrant then a Dug dealer is just a unlicensed Pharmacist.

  2. Immigration
    Rampant population growth threatens our economy and quality of life. Immigration, both legal and illegal, are fueling this growth.

    I’m not talking just about the obvious problems that we see in the news – growing dependence on foreign oil, carbon emissions, resource shortages, soaring commodity prices, etc. I’m talking about the effect upon rising unemployment and poverty in America.

    I should introduce myself. I am the author of a book titled “Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America.” To make a long story short, my theory is that, as population density rises beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption of products begins to decline out of the need to conserve space. People who live in crowded conditions simply don’t have enough space to use and store many products. This declining per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

    This theory has huge implications for U.S. policy toward population management, especially immigration policy. Our policies of encouraging high rates of immigration are rooted in the belief of economists that population growth is a good thing, fueling economic growth. Through most of human history, the interests of the common good and business (corporations) were both well-served by continuing population growth. For the common good, we needed more workers to man our factories, producing the goods needed for a high standard of living. This population growth translated into sales volume growth for corporations. Both were happy.

    But, once an optimum population density is breached, their interests diverge. It is in the best interest of the common good to stabilize the population, avoiding an erosion of our quality of life through high unemployment and poverty. However, it is still in the interest of corporations to fuel population growth because, even though per capita consumption goes into decline, total consumption still increases. We now find ourselves in the position of having corporations and economists influencing public policy in a direction that is not in the best interest of the common good.

    The U.N. ranks the U.S. with eight other countries – India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, Ethiopia and China – as accounting for fully half of the world’s population growth by 2050. The U.S. is the only developed country still experiencing third world-like population growth, most of which is due to immigration. It’s absolutely imperative that our population be stabilized, and that’s impossible without dramatically reining in immigration, both legal and illegal.

    If you’re interested in learning more about this important new economic theory, I invite you to visit my web site at where you can read the preface for free, join in my blog discussion and, of course, purchase the book if you like. (It’s also available at

    Please forgive the somewhat “spammish” nature of the previous paragraph. I just don’t know how else to inject this new perspective into the immigration debate without drawing attention to the book that explains the theory.

    Thanks for hearing an opposing viewpoint

    Pete Murphy
    Author, Five Short Blasts

    1. like that’s going to work
      “Something there is that does not love a wall”

      Why does the domestic immigration debate revolve around some sense of birthright amongst the nativists? Because I’m an American it is my God given (or WWII given) right to consume a vastly disproportionate amount of the worlds resources made available to me by gun boat diplomacy over the years and then complain about people jumping borders to do jobs I wouldn’t do? Every time you see some ‘border fence’ gun nut ranting about ‘these people broke the law’ notice that, as usual for Americans, they are usually obese, and if you get the chance offer them a job doing stoop labor for $6 an hour. Ask what’s left of small agribusiness in the western states and they’ll tell you they can’t get (fat) Americans to do these jobs as it’s our birthright to sit around watching television and eating junk food while day trading.

      The solution, obviously, is fix Mexico. If you don’t think the USA broke Mexico then post away. But you’ve probably come to the wrong website.

      If you think you can build a military wall, either physically or economically, around our lethargic spoiled lifestyle you’ve got another thing coming.

      “Imagine there’s no countries …”

    2. Immigration leading to lack of room in the US!?
      Immigration illegal and otherwise occurs because there are dynamic and ambitious people who want to participate in a dynamic economy with huge amounts of capital to help them get ahead. Doesnt matter whether they are entrepreneurs with money to invest in a new business here or workers anxious to do jobs which most Americans would rather not do, they want to share in a rising economy and rise with it.

      The theory that we are going to run out of space seems absurd. It is true and always has been that if everyone here had a large house and auto and wanted to play golf etc etc it couldn’t happen because there is not enough physical space, but let’s remember there is a growing array of products which are getting smaller and smaller and delivering more and more satisfaction and fun – computers, iPods etc.

      If you really think that economic man is running out of space that would apply to every country in the world , wouldn’t it? No one has enough land to serve up a big house for everybody, and even skyscraper building wont solve that problem.

      Your critique applies to humans in general who are going to overpopulate the world and probably already have, given the difficulty we having in feeding and clothing everybody right now. The US is far behind other countries in running out of space to put consumer it seems. In fact new flat screen TVs and monitors are saving soace right now on my desk!

      Everyone is looking to cut immigration for reasons to do with selfish fears but this is a new one! A good economist knows that immigration is the lifeblood of a growing economy and always has been.

  3. Illegal Immigrants
    Anybody in this country illegally should be deported. It is the law. Lawlessness is unacceptable for order and civilized living. It is OUTRAGEOUS for Americans to support lawbreaking.

  4. lawbreakers?
    OK, who among us has never broken a law? And how many laws does our government break every day without most of us saying a word about it? So what’s outrageous? Immigrants living and working peacefully among us without permission from the federal government? Huh? Since when did US citizens suddenly become so self-righteously law-abiding?

    As for the economic theory, there’s a contradiction: we’re concerned about this depletion of resources and its impact on the environment, but at the same time we’re saying that the people consuming the most resources have to keep up their levels of consumption in order to prop up the economy and maintain their wasteful middle and upper-class standard of living–at the expense of the world’s poor.

    What’s wrong with talking about a more equitable distribution of resources? And let’s talk about how the distribution of resources got to be so warped in the first place… how a small percentage of the world’s population continues to benefit from the past and present looting of resources, stolen from under the feet of–and through the sweat of–the world’s majority.

      To the people who are running around screaming, “oh no the law theyre breaking the law!” , I have a couple of reminders in the U.S. at one time slavery was the law so was racial segregation . Doubtless during segregation you would have decried the freedom riders and anti-segregation activists who sat in at the all white lunch counters “Oh no theyre breaking the law.” You would complain to your neighbors, During slavery you would have called your sherriff if you thought someone was a runaway slave the way you call ICE now if you think “illegall immigrants” live or work near you. Ask yourself, have you ever broken the law? Someone in your family is probably breaking the law right this moment. Does that mean they should be stripped of their humanity and sent away from you for ever?