Ticket to ride? Greyhound CEO demands DHS provide COVID-19 negative test results for illegal migrants

Greyhound’s President and CEO David Leach wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. He told the secretary that when the Department of Homeland Security goes to put an illegal migrant on a Greyhound bus, he expects the agency to have proof of a COVID-19 negative test result. The letter was a request for assistance from DHS as the bus line deals with the surge of illegal migrants at the U.S – Mexico border.

This is not an unreasonable demand. When illegal migrants are detained by border patrol agents, they become the responsibility of DHS. There is a surge of activity at the border now, thanks to Joe Biden’s executive actions since taking office. Mexicans and Central Americans take him at his word that he will open America’s borders and those entering illegally will receive no more than a slap on the wrist, if that. Migrants are released into border towns, dropped off at bus stops, and sent on their merry way further into the country. Resources at the border are not without limits. There are simply not enough non-profits or volunteer organizations to accommodate the flood of illegal migrants.

As Leach wrote in his letter, “Our top priority is the safety of our employees and passengers.” Why should airlines, for example, have a different standard for international travelers than a bus line? Airline passengers have to present verification of a negative test result before boarding a plane for an international flight.

“We need assurance that any detainees released by ICE have proof of a negative COVID-19 test, similar to the proof required for international airline passengers who arrive at US ports of entry,” Leach’s letter continued. “Greyhound already asks our customers to stay home and NOT travel if they are not feeling well or have been diagnosed with COVID. However, migrants simply do not have that choice unless the government or their sponsors house them while they quarantine. Therefore, it is critical to public safety that ICE provide 100% assurance that no one released that can be reasonably expected to ride a Greyhound bus be infected with COVID-19 (or mixed with other potential passengers that have tested negative).”

With the increase in demand for bus travel, Greyhound is requesting emergency funding. In years past, when surges in migration occurred, Greyhound worked with regional partners and charities to help transfer migrants “with dignity and humanity”. But, this isn’t 2014 or 2019. This year there is a pandemic to consider and that puts a new level of stress on the situation. There is a lot more demand for bus trips going away from the border than going to the border.

“We simply do not have buses and drivers ready to meet surges in demand without emergency funding,” Leach said. “In order to properly serve immigrants coming into the southern border and traveling to their sponsor destination, Greyhound will be operating one-way moves throughout the country and in order to get the resources back (buses and drivers) to the border to continue operations, Greyhound needs funding assistance to cover the costs of repositioning buses and drivers from other parts of the country to wherever they may be needed.”

Greyhound passengers, migrants or not, should have a reasonable expectation of not sitting next to a COVID-19 positive passenger. Bus drivers should not have to worry if their trip will become a superspreader event. This is a public health issue. Recently a City of Brownsville spokesperson said that 108 migrants have tested positive for the virus since Jan. 25, when rapid testing began. Brownsville was doing the testing, not ICE or DHS. The city has no authority to refuse to allow the migrants to board a bus out of town even with a positive test result. Migrants are advised to quarantine and socially distance but without a local sponsor or relative to provide a place in which to quarantine, they go on to their next location, often out of state.

Border security is a federal responsibility. It is not at all unreasonable for Greyhound to expect federal funding in order to provide the services being requested of their company. The same goes for proof of negative test results. Governor Abbott released a statement on social media.

If Biden is serious about ending the coronavirus pandemic, he’ll find the cojones to do what works at the border, not bend over for the radical open borders crowd. Common sense tells us that allowing COVID-19 positive illegal migrants to travel across the country is not a wise decision. When Obama was putting them on buses in 2014 or Trump in 2019, there was not a highly contagious pandemic to worry about. Greyhound is willing to provide transportation and should be given assurances of safety precautions for its passengers and bus drivers.