Comedian Mohanad Elshieky ‘interrogated’ by US border force agents on bus over legal asylum status | US News
An American comedian claims he was interrogated by US border officials and told his asylum papers were fake while travelling back from a gig on a bus.
Mohanad Elshieky was on the way to Portland, Oregon, following a comedy show at Washington State University when he says the officers boarded the bus he was on and demanded to see his papers.
Mr Elshieky initially believed the men to be ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials, but later thought them to be CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers.
He tweeted: “This morning, ICE agents got on my Greyhound bus that was headed from Spokane to Portland. They walked around before they asked me and few others to step outside and took my documents and interrogated me for around 20 mins then claimed my papers were fake and that I’m ‘illegal’.
“I explained to them that I was granted asylum here in the United States, and that the work permit they currently hold and the license are impossible to get unless your presence here is legal. They told me that I was lying and these could pretty much be falsified.
“They got on the phone with immigration and gave them my name and document number and I can hear the person on the end of the line saying that yes they can see my name and yes, I entered the country legally.
“The ICE agent ended the call and then said ‘there are no records of your asylum’ and I again said that was impossible.”
Mr Elshieky said he managed to remain calm but told the officers what they were doing was illegal, telling them he would be able to call his lawyer.
He said they eventually handed back his papers and said: “Next time, have your papers on you.”
Mr Elshieky added: “[It] means nothing because I did and they said they were fake.
“To be honest, I have never felt as terrible as I did today. I have never imagined that I would have to go through this.
“It was an another reminder that even though I have been here for five years working my a** off, I was still considered “other” and I have never felt as alone as I did in that station full of people.”
He later added that he still views the US as his home and the experience had not changed his desire to live there.
Mr Elshieky is originally from Libya but now lives in Portland, Oregon. He moved to the US in 2014 as part of a student exchange programme and said it soon became dangerous for him to return to his home country.
Messages from home told him people were looking for him, raiding his room to find evidence of allegiance to one of the warring factions.
He then sought asylum and took a degree which included public speaking to bolster his application, leading him eventually to comedy.
Some people have brought to my attention that based on the photos I taken, those were CBP and not ICE. Here is a photo of my ticket in case anyone wants to make sure I was on the bus. There was snow on the floor and it was freezing cold in Spokane. Feel free to ask me anything. pic.twitter.com/s6X7EKxuj3
— Mohanad Elshieky (@MohanadElshieky) January 28, 2019
In support of his ordeal, New York congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “One of these days, I hope people realise that the idea that ICE should be scrapped isn’t so crazy after all.
“ICE jails children in for-profit detention centres funded by private equity grps. Kids are dying w/ 0 accountability. If that’s not totally broken, I don’t know what is.”
In a statement released, Greyhound said: “We understand our customers’ concerns about US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducting warrantless, but still legal, searches on our buses.
“CBP officers do not ask permission to board our buses. We do not want to put our drivers’ safety or the safety of our passengers at risk by attempting to stop a federal agent from conducting checks.
“CBP searches have negatively impacted both our customers and our operations. Greyhound does not coordinate with CBP, nor do we support these actions.
“That is why we are calling on Congress to change the law and will support positive efforts to do so. We also encourage all our customers to know their rights and share their opinion on this important issue with their members of Congress.”
Sky News has attempted to contact CBP for a comment, but the department is currently affected by the US government shutdown.
Sky News has contacted Mr Elshieky.