All it took was one woman with knowledge to use her voice against border patrol agents
While there’s no shortage of frustrating and heartbreaking stories surrounding the actions of border patrol agents, one woman’s story stands out among the rest. During a recent Greyhound bus ride, she completely shut down the agents’ attempt to board and intimidate herself and her fellow passengers by knowing her rights and using that knowledge to defend others.
Tiana Smalls shared her account of what occurred during a bus ride from Bakersfield, California to Las Vegas. On her Facebook page, Smalls says while crossing the state line over to Nevada, the bus driver made an announcement at a routine checkpoint: “We are being boarded by Border Patrol. Please be prepared to show your documentation upon request.”
Luckily for everyone on board, Smalls wasn’t having any of it — and rightly so.
“WAIT. WHAT THE FUCK?” she writes. “So you know I’m ready to act an ass. I stand up and say loudly: THIS IS A VIOLATION OF YOUR 4TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOW THEM *SHIT*!!! This is illegal. We are not within 100 miles of an international border so that have NO authority to ask you for ANYTHING. TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF!”
Smalls says she even translated what she said into Spanish, because she noticed the woman sitting next to her didn’t speak English, and she “looked terrified, so I told her I had her back.”
At this point, the agents boarded the bus and warned everyone on the bus they were going to ask for “documentation” from people. Smalls took the opportunity to set things straight, right then and there.
“I stand up and yell, ‘I’m not showing you shit! I’m not driving this bus, so you have NO RIGHT to ask me for anything! And the rest of you guys don’t have to show them anything, either! This is harassment and racial profiling! Don’t show them a gotdamn thing! We are not within 100 miles of a border so they have NO LEGAL RIGHT or jurisdiction here! GOOGLE IT!'”
She’s not wrong. According to the ACLU, beyond the 100-mile zone, border patrol agents can’t pull anyone over or confront anyone about documentation without “reasonable suspicion” of an immigration violation or crime.
Smalls says the agents appeared “exasperated” and relented to her knowledge (albeit quite rudely). “One of them said ‘Fine. We can see that you’re a citizen because of your filthy mouth.’ And then they just said ‘go ahead’ to the bus driver and got off.”
This is why staying informed about these issues — especially when you live in or near a 100-mile zone, is crucial. If those with privilege educate ourselves, we can then use our privilege for the good of the marginalized — just like Smalls did on her Greyhound bus. The border patrol officers are used to people obeying them out of fear; they don’t care whether they’re obeying the Constitution or not.
“We do not have to just take this shit lying down,” Smalls concludes in her post. “Use your voice. Take a risk. Act an ASS. Because if you let them intimidate the poor Spanish speaking woman next to you, who do you think they’re coming for next?”