Father, son with DACA detained on Greyhound bus by Border Patrol in Spokane
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - A Federal Way family fears they might lose a father and husband if he's deported back to Mexico.
Sergio Vera, 18, and his mother, Rocio Chavez, have a lot on their minds and worry in their hearts.
“I’m feeling scared especially for my kids. We don't know about my husband’s situation,” said Chavez.
Her husband, Martin Vera is sitting in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma awaiting his fate.
Sergio Vera and his father were on a Greyhound bus headed from Seattle to Montana last Saturday when Border Patrol agents stopped them at the Spokane Inter-modal Center.
“They said, 'Are you illegal?' And I said, ‘Why?’ And they said, ‘Do you have your documents on you?’ I handed over my driver's license. They didn’t take it,” said Sergio Vera.
Sergio Vera, a DACA recipient, did not have his documents with him.
He said he has taken many cross-country trips on Greyhound and never had any issues.
Agents scanned Sergio and his father's fingerprints and then detained them both.
“It’s worrisome because as someone who doesn’t have any criminal record, why would I be detained?” said Sergio Vera.
Agents said his DACA status had expired, according to Sergio Vera.
“I had DACA. They said it expired. They said Trump already took that away,” said Sergio Vera.
His mom texted Sergio a photograph of his paperwork and his two-year extension. Agents didn't accept it at first, according to Sergio. He was released hours later.
But, Sergio’s father, who is undocumented, was taken away, first to Yakima and then to Tacoma.
According to his family, Martin has been in the U.S. for 19 years and has no criminal record.
“He hasn't even gotten a speeding ticket,” said Sergio Vera.
“He is a work man. He is always a person who, if someone needs help, he’s the first person to help them,” said Chavez. “He no has tickets with police. We always volunteer in church and school.”
Jason Givens, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said the agency has legal authority to conduct checks without a warrant within 100 air miles of a border.
"As part of its layered approach to border security, the U.S. Border Patrol also operates tactical checkpoints and conducts transporation check operations targeting illegal aliens attemting to further their entry and travel to destinations deeper into the interior of the United States," said Givens. "In accordance with the law, as outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act, The U.S. Border Patrol has routinely been conducting transportation checks in Spokane for several years."
“We're are talking about purely domestic routes that happen to be within a hundred miles of the border," said said Jorge Baron, the Executive Director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. "We don’t think in those situations the kind of expansive search the Border Patrol is doing is valid under the constitution.”
Meanwhile, a Greyhound bus spokeswoman told KOMO News it complies with Border Patrol requests.
In a statement, Greyhound said, "While we don't work in partnership with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office, we are required to comply with all local, state, and federal laws to cooperate with the relevant enforcement agencies."
Border Patrol searches may not be new, but Baron said priorities have shifted.
“What the Obama administration has said is, ‘We're going to focus on people with criminal convictions.’ And now, the Trump administration has said, ‘We're not going to prioritize; we're going to sweep everyone we run into’,” said Baron.
As for what happens to Martin Vera, his family can only wait and see.
“We’re waiting for a court date in Tacoma and we’ll present as many documents as we can to support him, we’re trying to get him released somehow,” said Sergio Vera.
According to his family, Martin Vera now has an attorney and his court date has yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, Sergio Vera said he and his mother wanted to come forward and share their story so others could be aware of the Border Patrol stops and searches.
“I wish they would post it on the Greyhound website or have some kind of announcement to bring document with you,” said Sergio Vera.