Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol agents have been entering Greyhound and Amtrak stations without warrants, according to the Washington State ACLU.
On Monday, the Spokane City Council passed an ordinance aimed at protecting passenger rights.
The ordinance passed with 6 to 1 vote and immediately became law.
According to the Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement on City Property Ordinance brought before the council, there would be no financial cost to the city if passed.
Furthermore, it establishes the mayor as the “only official that can grant access to an agency or individual for the purposes of conducting federal civil immigration enforcement operations in nonpublic areas of the city.”
The future of the law isn’t quite clear. According to reports on Tuesday, Mayor David Condon said federal laws prohibit the city from stopping ICE agents.
The ordinance seeks to protect Fourth Amendment rights by disallowing agencies and individuals from accessing nonpublic areas of Spokane, specifically for federal immigration enforcement.
On Monday, standing outside of City Hall, just 15 minutes before the meeting began, were representatives from Congressional candidate Lisa Brown.
Inside City Hall were members of the ACLU, passing out yellow pins while a line of people signed up to speak in support of the measure.
The City Council Chambers were packed wall-to-wall with people, some overflowing into the lobby.
The night began with a performance by Bethany Montgomery, the founder of Power to Poetry, something that is unusual for a City Council meeting.
Montgomery’s poem read “45 does not understand the importance of family.” In this instance, 45 is a reference to President Trump.
City Council President Ben Stuckart said the ordinance originated in February 2017 when he was sitting in the Hemmingson Ballroom to listen to refugees share stories and fears they have about their future.
Shortly after, Stuckart learned the extent of the presence of Border Patrol and ICE on buses and Greyhound and Amtrak stations, including the one in Spokane.
Stuckart said the City Council met with border patrol and attempted to make a compromise before resorting to an ordinance. The Border Patrol responded by adding 30 additional agents to the Spokane area, which cost taxpayers $250,000 this year, according to Stuckart.
People of all backgrounds made their presence known to show their support for the ordinance.
“The more stigma and the more fear there is in the community for undocumented people, the less they can access health care, and the more risk there is for public health overall,” said family physician Louis Manriquez.
Several representatives from Planned Parenthood, Spokane Coalition of Color, pastors and lawyers spoke Monday night.
Most of those attending the meeting stood up during the testimonies of others and remained standing during the entire duration of the council meeting. When community members heard the testimony of one woman speaking out against the ordinance, the majority turned in the other direction, facing their backs toward the speaker.
“If this ordinance passes, it will take the fear out of the immigrant community,” said Lili Navarrete, volunteer program manager for Planned Parenthood, who was among those who participated in the symbolic act of turning around. “I have been a Spokane resident for 30 years, and I am an immigrant from Mexico City. I have seen people be separated and detained here at the Greyhound and Amtrak train stations in Spokane.”
Mike Fagan was the only council member who voted against the ordinance, saying he believes that Border Patrol is doing the job that the federal government asks it to do, and that immigrants should come into the U.S. legally.
The ordinance passed 6 to 1 and immediately became law.
Karlie Murphy is a staff writer.