Complaint Filed Against Border Patrol Officers for Unlawful Detention on Greyhound Bus in Spokane, Washington

News Release: 
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Mohanad Elshieky, a professional comedian who lives in Portland, Oregon, filed an administrative complaint today against the Border Patrol after Border Patrol officers in Spokane, WA, pulled him off of a bus during a layover at the Greyhound Bus Station in the Spokane Intermodal Center. The complaint alleges that Mr. Elshieky, who had previously been granted asylum in the United States in 2018, was detained by Border Patrol officers even after producing valid identification documents demonstrating that he was lawfully present in the United States. Disregarding those documents, Border Patrol officers racially profiled Mr. Elshieky and pulled him off the bus, calling him a lying “illegal.”

Mr. Elshieky’s complaint against the Border Patrol comes amidst increased scrutiny over Border Patrol practices at the Greyhound Bus Station in the Spokane Intermodal Center. Border Patrol officers have targeted immigrants and persons of color, demanding to see documents and detaining them, despite the fact that none of the Greyhound buses are coming from or going to the international border. The Border Patrol’s activities have continued despite a Spokane City Ordinance barring their warrantless presence in the bus boarding area of the Intermodal Center, which is owned by the City of Spokane.

The complaint asserts that Border Patrol officers unlawfully detained and arrested Mr. Elshieky, and seeks damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Under the FTCA, federal officials like Border Patrol officers may be liable for interference with a person’s freedom of movement that amounts to an unlawful arrest or false imprisonment, like they did with Mr. Elshieky. Mr. Elshieky is represented in the complaint by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU).

Reflecting on the experience, Mr. Elshieky remarked, “Since coming to the United States, I have followed all the rules asked of me, applying for and obtaining asylum so that I can remain safe. I would hope that the same immigration officials that expect me to follow the law would do the same and respect my rights. I hope that by taking action over the way Border Patrol officers treated me, others will not have to experience the same, degrading mistreatment that I faced.”

“Border Patrol must be held accountable for trampling the constitutional rights of our community members,” said Matt Adams, legal director for NWIRP. “Arrests like this one are especially egregious because Border Patrol knows very well theses buses are not coming from or going to the international border,”

Border Patrol is already facing legal action from the ACLU and NWIRP for unconstitutionally detaining Andres Sosa Segura, a bus rider in Spokane.

“Border Patrol must take responsibility for its pattern of unconstitutional behavior in Spokane,” said Lisa Nowlin, ACLU of Washington Staff Attorney. “Spokane is not a constitution-free zone and people do not give up their rights when traveling by bus.”

Mr. Elshieky’s complaint can be viewed here.