Mohanad Elshieky is an Oregon comedian who was ordered off a Greyhound after a performance in Washington and detained by immigration agents even though he is in the country legally, NBC News reported.
“I have never felt as terrible as I did today,” Elshieky wrote after the incident on Twitter. “I have never imagined that I would have to go through this.”
Elshieky came to the United States on an exchange student visa in 2014 and applied for asylum after he was fearful to return to his hometown of Benghazi, Libya following the outbreak of a civil war in the country.
In October 2018, he was granted asylum.
Elshieky said he showed the immigration agents his work authorization card but an officer told him that “illegals get those all the time.”
Elshieky said that an officer also told him there was no record of his asylum claim.
The agents eventually let him go after he threatened to call a lawyer, he said.
Border Patrol confirmed the incident in a statement to Willamette Week.
“While performing transportation checks, agents made contact with Mohanad Elshieky,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Mr. Elshieky stated he was from Libya and presented the agents with an Oregon driver’s license and an Employment Authorization Card (EAD). As with anyone who needs to have their immigration status verified, Mr. Elshieky was asked to exit the bus. After the approximately 20 minutes needed to verify his status, Mr. Elshieky was allowed to board the bus and continue his travels without delay.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mohanad Elshieky Was Ordered Off a Greyhound Bus & Detained
Elshieky, 27, was traveling home to Portland after a gig in Spokane when immigration agents ordered him off the bus.
Elshieky told NBC News that two immigration officers boarded the bus and asked if he was an American citizen.
“I said, ‘I’m a citizen of Libya,’” he recalled. “They said, ‘OK, come with us.’”
Elshieky described his experience on Twitter.
“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,'” he wrote.
2. Elshieky Was Granted Asylum & Has a Work Permit
Elshieky came to the United States on a visa for exchange students in 2014 and later applied for asylum after a civil war prevented him from returning to his hometown of Benghazi, Libya, he told NBC News. He was granted asylum in October 2018.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter. “They told me that I was lying and these could pretty much be falsified.”
“Illegals get those all the time,” he recalled one of the officers telling him to NBC News.
3. Elshieky Says He Was Accused of Being ‘Illegal’
Elshieky says that despite having a work permit and being granted asylum the officers accused him of faking the documents and claimed there was no record of his asylum claim.
“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,” he wrote. “The ICE agent ended the call and then said ‘there are no records of your Asylum’ and I again said that was impossible. Then said I should had my Asylum approval on me which is ridiculous, why would I carry that where I have my IDs.”
Elshieky later clarified that the agents were from CBP, not ICE.
“I kept it together and told them that what they are doing now is illegal and that they must hand me my documents back or I will have to call my lawyer and take legal action,” he continued.
“Another ICE agent then started yelling at me to take my hands out of my pockets and I did which is stupid because it was snowing and they were wearing gloves and my hands were freezing cold,” he wrote.
“They handed my documents back and said ‘next time, have your papers on you’ which means nothing because I did and they said they were fake,” he added.
4. Elshieky Says ‘I Have Never Felt as Alone as I Did in That Station Full of People’
Elshieky said the incident left him feeling terrible.
“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,” he wrote. “It was an another reminder that even though I have been here for 5 years working my ass off, I was still considered ‘Other’ and I have never felt as alone as I did in that station full of people.”
“The ironic part is that I though that smell on the Greyhound bus was gonna be the worst part of the trip,” he quipped. “Also, f**k you @GreyhoundBus. You could have easily not let those agents on the bus but you’re just as s***ty as you smell.”
Elshieky posted a photo of the agents, writing, “here is a photo of the racist trash Fox News call ‘heroes.'”
5. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Renews Calls to Scrap ICE After Elshieky is Detained
Elshieky’s experience caught the eye of numerous lawmakers who called for action against ICE. Elshieky noted on Twitter that the agents were CBP agents, not ICE.
“One of these days, I hope people realize that the idea that ICE should be scrapped isn’t so crazy after all,” New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “ICE jails children in for-profit detention centers funded by private equity grps. Kids are dying w/ 0 accountability. If that’s not totally broken, I don’t know what is.”
Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal slammed immigration agents’ policy of checking papers of passengers already within US borders.
“These are troubling allegations of harassment and profiling,” she wrote. “I am absolutely opposed to agents pulling passengers off Greyhound buses at random and I stand against policies that allow Border Patrol to conduct enforcement hours away from the border itself.”
“What we need is comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken system, including a dramatic shift away from enforcement practices that are violating people’s rights and undermining community trust.”