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How Washington's "sanctuary state" law will affect Spokane

The law makes changes to the way state and local law enforcement handles issues of immigration.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently signed a law many have dubbed the "sanctuary state" law.

The law makes a broad range of changes to the way law enforcement deals with immigration. 

The term "sanctuary" means different things in nearly every context; here's what some of the major changes are for this law.

One, it bars any state agency from using its resources to pursue or help with any investigation that's only about immigration status.

Two, state and local law enforcement can no longer ask anyone for their immigration status unless it's part of a criminal investigation.

Three, it puts severe restrictions on how local agencies can cooperate with the feds.

That includes making it illegal under state law to comply with federal detainer requests.

What's a detainer request? That's when an agency like ICE asks a local jail to keep someone in custody for an extra 48 hours so that ICE can come and pick them up for immigration violations.

Jails aren't legally required to comply with that request. And now, in Washington, they're legally required not to.

So what actual effects will this law have in Spokane?

Generally speaking: not many.

City law already prevents Spokane police from asking about immigration status.

And county policy already states the jail will not comply with any detainer request unless it also comes with a criminal warrant.

But what about those bus checks, the ones border patrol does at the Spokane Intermodal Center?

Those will also continue. As a state law, this new measure cannot affect the federal CBP directly.

However, that doesn't mean border patrol is exactly excited about the law.

In a statement, Chief Patrol Agent Henry Rolon said: "As federal law enforcement agents, our authority to enforce federal law goes unchanged. We will continue to complete our mission in an effort to increase the safety and security of this Nation. It would be unfortunate if this recently signed law hindered the ability of all law enforcement agencies to make Washington a safer place."

The law also includes sections devoted to developing other policies aimed at making immigrants feel safer in Washington. Part of the idea behind the law: if immigrants feel safer around law enforcement, they're more likely to report crime to police and cooperate as witnesses.