U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents continue to violate the constitutional rights of Mainers. Cyr Bus Lines is helping them.

Those are the allegations being made by the ACLU of Maine on behalf of two Presque Isle residents, and they are not hard allegations to believe. Border agents in Maine have too often overstepped even their broad enforcement powers, showing contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the people it was created to protect.

The latest reports of overzealous and illegal policing come from Houlton, where the two people from Presque Isle, Jade Hopkins and Robert Kipp, say their Fourth Amendment rights were violated on several occasions in 2021 and 2022.

According to the ACLU, the problems started when federal border agents began boarding Cyr buses to question passengers on their citizenship status, even though the bus had not crossed and would not be crossing any international borders.

The ACLU also contends that border agents used drug-alert dogs to conduct searches in violation of passenger’s rights.

Under the Constitution, to board a bus agents must have either reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a passenger is committing a crime, or the permission of the bus company.


Even with the company’s permission to conduct a search, passengers are not legally obligated to answer the agents’ questions.

Yet when Hopkins and Kipp, regular riders on the bus line, questioned whether they were required to answer citizenship questions, they were wrongly told yes by border agents, the ACLU complaint says.

On a later trip, after they had learned their rights, Hopkins and Kipp refused to answer. In response to exercising their rights, they were removed from the bus and handcuffed. When they pressed the agents on their illegal detainment, their concerns were dismissed, and they were told they wouldn’t be allowed on their bus ride home if they didn’t prove their citizenship.

Let’s be clear. You don’t need to be a citizen to ride the bus in Maine, and every one of us has the constitutional right to move around the state and the country without being questioned without cause by armed federal agents. The actions of law enforcement in these cases are especially troubling for people of color and those who speak accented English, people who are often the victims of racial profiling in immigration checks.

The actions detailed in the complaint do not amount to law enforcement. They are no more than unconstitutional fishing expeditions that intimidate law-abiding passengers and do nothing to keep us safe.

That’s why, after the companies were roundly criticized for the practice, both Concord Coach and Greyhound Lines have both prohibited agents from boarding buses to conduct warrantless immigration checks since 2020.


For the sake of their passengers, Cyr Bus Lines should join them without delay.

More than that, Customs and Border Protection needs to be held accountable, with more checks placed on its power. The agency asserts a 100-mile zone of jurisdiction from any international border or coastline, placing the entire state of Maine under their purview. Its agents have used that power in the past to disrupt lives and intimidate residents.

And for what reason? There is no border problem in Maine that calls for federal agents to run unchecked through the state.

And there is no excuse, ever, for any law enforcement agency to violate the Constitution.


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