The ACLU of Maine is asking the owners of Cyr Bus Lines to stop allowing armed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to board buses and question riders without a warrant after two Presque Isle residents were handcuffed and removed from a bus for not answering questions about their citizenship status.

The group alleges Cyr is allowing agents to regularly board buses and interrogate customers and has begun using drug-alert dogs to inspect Cyr buses during rest stops in Houlton.

The ACLU sent letters to the company on June 1 and 21 outlining what it calls abuses by agents who regularly board Cyr buses. It urged the company to adopt policies like the ones implemented by Concord Coach and Greyhound Lines that prohibit agents from boarding their buses to conduct warrantless immigration checks.

“CBP is already overstepping its legal authority by regularly boarding Cyr buses, coercively interrogating [its] passengers, and handcuffing and detaining passengers if they choose to exercise their legal right to not answer. But CBP’s new practice of using drug-alerting dogs to search all Cyr passengers’ luggage represents an even more egregious violation of passengers’ basic civil rights,” ACLU of Maine Legal Director Carol Garvan wrote in a June 21 letter to the company.

A representative for Cyr did not respond to a voicemail and email asking about the ACLU’s allegations.



Presque Isle residents Jade Hopkins and Robert Kipp frequently use Cyr’s daily service to visit friends and family. In October 2021, they were on a Cyr bus when agents boarded at a routine rest stop in Houlton to ask passengers if they were citizens. When Hopkins asked if she was legally required to answer, the ACLU said the agent wrongly answered yes, so she and Kipp confirmed they are citizens.

Kipp and Hopkins say they were confused and intimidated by the interrogation because the bus did not cross an international border and citizenship is not required to ride a bus.

In the following months, Hopkins and Kipp say they regularly heard Cyr drivers tell passengers that agents would board the bus and they should answer their questions. When Hopkins and Kipp stayed silent, they said some agents would accept their answers, others asked repeated questions about where they were born and where they were traveling; one agent insisted they answer and asked to see identification, and another threatened to remove Hopkins from the bus.

But when agents boarded their bus home from New Hampshire just after Thanksgiving in 2022, Kipp and Hopkins said agents handcuffed them, forced them off the bus and took them to a nearby parking lot where two other agents were waiting, according to the ACLU.

When Kipp asked how the agents could detain them without cause, the agent in charge allegedly said he was “not playing that game.” Eventually, Kipp and Hopkins confirmed they are citizens after agents told them they would miss their bus. The agents required them to show identification, then removed their handcuffs and allowed them to leave, the ACLU said.

“I want to live in a country that upholds its values and treats people with fairness and equality under the law. We must hold authorities and institutions of power to account when they fail to serve the people, and we must push back when unjust, pointless, and unlawful acts are carried out – particularly when done by those in charge. Rights are important. You need to exercise them and keep them strong so they are ready when you need them,” Hopkins said in a statement.



Other bus companies with service in Maine faced months of pressure from the ACLU before changing their policies.

After a leaked government memo revealed that Customs and Border Protection agents cannot board buses without consent, Greyhound Lines announced in 2020 that it would no longer allow agents to conduct immigration checks without warrants. For years, Greyhound – the country’s largest bus line – had allowed agents to board buses without warrants, though the company had said it did not agree with the practice and that it negatively impacted its customers and operations.

The leaked memo obtained by the Associated Press stated that the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prevents agents from boarding buses and questioning passengers without a warrant or the consent of the company.

Soon after, Concord Coach Lines said it would also reconsider its policy of allowing border patrol agents on buses. The New Hampshire-based bus company provides service between Portland, Boston and New York City.

Concord had previously said it was unwilling to deny federal law enforcement agents access to their buses or put staff in the position of determining whether a federal agent’s burden of proof has been met.

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