SPOKANE, Wash. — Tweets from a comedian based in Portland are getting national attention.
Comedian Mohanad Elshieky said border patrol agents pulled him off a Greyhound bus in Spokane and interrogated him.
He had a show in Pullman, and was taking the bus in Spokane back to Portland. He said border patrol agents told him his two forms of documents were fake and that he was "illegal."
He was eventually let go, but the situation is now prompting response from city leaders and the organizations involved.
With a lot of questions out there, we wanted to know what is legal in a situation like this.
If this exchange between Mohanad Elshieky and border patrol went by the books and followed the fourth amendment, which protect people from random stops and searches, this is what would have happened.
Border Patrol agents would have received written permission from Mayor David Condon to go into the private bus station area.
Then, they would get permission from the bus driver to search the bus.
After that, they would have to ask everyone on the bus the same question--something to effect of what is your citizenship or immigration status.
Passengers on the bus do not have to respond to their questions. It is their right.
If a passenger does answer them, and give the agents probable cause to believe they are out of compliance with the law, they can ask to see documents proving their status.
The Supreme Court ruling on Terry v. Ohio allows these agents, under these circumstances, to briefly remove a passenger from the bus.
Elshieky also tweeted the agents walked around before asking him and a few others to step off the bus to show their documents. Council member Breean Beggs, who is also a lawyer, says if the agents only spoke to those few individuals on the bus, this could be racial profiling.
But, border patrol confirmed the agents did in fact talk to everyone on the bus.
His tweet goes onto say they asked only a few people off the bus first, before asking them any questions.
Council member Beggs says this is illegal and violates the fourth amendment
Then there's the claim that the comedian's documents, which were his Oregon driver's license and work permit, were fake.
Border Patrol explained, those two documents are not considered legal documents for verifying his status as an asylum seeker in the US. They said an asylum seeker must have an I-94 form on them at all times. And they said Elshieky did not have this.
Border Patrol has said in the past it is allowed to do searches this way within 100 miles of the border.
And it has no plans to change this policy.
All of this meaning, agents won't seek written permission from the mayor or permission from the bus driver to do these searches.