Border Patrol, Spokane city council member respond to viral Twitter thread
SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Intermodal Center is now at the center of a controversy that’s gaining national attention, after a comedian’s tweets about Spokane went viral Sunday.
Mohanad Elshieky, a Portland comedian from Benghazi, Libya, said in a Twitter thread he was heading home from a show in Pullman when border patrol agents got on his bus heading from Spokane to Portland, asked him and a few others to step off, then interrogated him and claimed he was in the country illegally when he showed them his work permit.
U.S. Border Patrol’s Spokane Sector told KXLY Monday the agents involved in the screening had been spoken with. Special operations supervisor Bill Kingsford said Elshieky presented agents his employment authorization card, but that it was not a valid document.
Kingsford said Elshieky legally needed an I-94 form, which “would’ve made the interaction so much quicker.” He went on to confirm that after a 12 minute screening, agents found Elshieky is in the U.S. legally.
City council member Kate Burke believes Elshieky’s experience — and many others like his — could have been prevented. Back in October in a 6-1 vote, the council approved a new ordinance designed to protect those passing through the Intermodal Center, where Border Patrol agents can board buses and screen riders since Spokane is within 100 miles of an international border.
Burke was one of six who agreed that those agents were then required to either get a warrant or permission from Mayor David Condon to screen riders.
Mayor Condon has since refused to enforce that ordinance, stating in part in November “it may wrongly give a person who might be detained by immigration officials a false sense of security in the Intermodal Center.”
“It’s really disappointing to the community members we’re trying to serve and pass policy and the mayor’s role is to enact these policies that we push forward,” said Burke. “There are people suffering because of this.”
If enforced, Burke said that policy could’ve protected people like Elshieky. When she saw the thread on Twitter Sunday night, Burke said she was disappointed — but she wasn’t shocked.
“I was like, ‘of course. Of course that would happen here in Spokane,'” she said. “To have who’s supposed to be the leader of our city tell us that he’s not going to do what we’ve provided him to do, is frustrating beyond all ends.”
KXLY reached out to Mayor Condon’s office for a comment Monday. A spokesperson for the mayor said his office did not have first hand information on the situation and referred us back to his statement from November.
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