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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane council approves rules restricting Border Patrol searches at bus station

The Spokane Intermodal Center, shown on April 11, 2014, is about 93 miles from the Canadian border and seen by federal agents as a prime spot to catch undocumented immigrants as they board Greyhound buses. Hundreds of immigrants have been detained there in recent years. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

After hearing testimony from a crowd of medical students, immigrants, lawyers, pastors and activists, the Spokane City Council approved an ordinance restricting the U.S. Border Patrol’s search of buses and access to city property that is not open to the public.

The new law will require Border Patrol to obtain written permission from the mayor before entering the Spokane Intermodal Center along with city property where people are required to purchase a ticket or obtain permission to enter. The ordinance, which passed 6 to 1 immediately became law.

Border Patrol has apprehended about 30 people at the Intermodal Center, which houses the Greyhound bus and Amtrak train stations. Agents have arrested about 200 people since 2013. City Councilman Breean Beggs said he had discussed racial profiling with Border Patrol and was concerned that the methods they had shared with him, such as boarding buses at they Greyhound station and questioning every person on board, could still lead to racial profiling.

Representatives from ACLU, Spokane Coalition of Color, and churches across Spokane spoke out in support of the ordinance, as well as hundreds of community members who filled the council chambers and spilled into City Hall’s lobby while waiting their turn to speak.

The only council member who voted against the ordinance, Mike Fagan, said he believes Border Patrol should be able to do the job the federal government allows them to do and people should work to come into the country legally.