Spokane Mayor David Condon said a new law City Council passed Monday restricting Border Patrol from searching buses in the Spokane Intermodal Center may not change the agency’s actions.
The ordinance, passed Monday in a 6-to-1 vote, requires immigration enforcement to obtain a warrant for a criminal issue or obtain permission from the mayor to enter city property that has been designated as a nonpublic area. City property covered under this ordinance would include areas like the Spokane Intermodal Center, which requires people in the Greyhound bus area to be an employee or purchase a ticket.
In a statement Tuesday, Condon wrote that immigration officials have not asked permission to enter city property in the past and city employees don’t have the authority to prevent them from doing so. He said Border Patrol is operating under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows the agency to to enter any vehicle within 100 miles of the border.
“The action taken by the Council merely provides a false sense of security for vulnerable individuals,” he said, “rather than a change in the practice of Border Patrol.”
This year about 30 people have been arrested at the Spokane Intermodal Center. Since 2013, more than 200 people have been apprehended there.
City Council President Ben Stuckart said he felt comfortable that lawmakers acted on firm legal footing. He said he expected a citizen’s group to challenge the Border Patrol if they chose to ignore the city’s new ordinance. Citing a Supreme Court Fourth Amendment case from earlier this year, Virginia v. Collins, he said the courts have shown that the Border Patrol could board a bus on a road, but not if it is parked inside a residence or garage.
“I think the courts will end up deciding this,” Stuckart said. “I think the part that keeps getting missed is that the city already treats this as a private area.”
Reporter Kip Hill contributed to this story