Despite having paperwork showing that he has been granted asylum, the agents told him he was “illegal”
Up-and-coming Portland comedian Mohanad Elshieky was traveling by bus home from a gig in Spokane, Washington, when his day was turned upside down. Border Patrol agents boarded his Greyhound, picked him from the crowded bus, and detained and interrogated him despite his valid paperwork and identification.
The Libyan comic, who escaped violent conflict in his home country, shared his outrageous experience in a series of viral tweets. As of today the post has 113,000 likes and 59,000 shares – and has sparked local lawmakers to ask for an investigation on the state level in Washington.
Even though he explained his situation and his legal immigration status, the agents were unmoved.
They even allegedly lied to him when they called to verify his status.
Only threatening the agents with legal action seemed to get through to them – since they likely knew that he had valid paperwork.
Overall, it was a reminder of what it’s like to be an immigrant, and a person of color, in the United States today under this administration and in these times.
He not only had strong words for the actions of the agents, but also for Greyhound, which did not have to let the agents board the private transportation system in the first place.
He even added a few photos, taken after the incident, and it appears, from the safety of the bus after he was allowed to board again.
He did correct his original statement in one way: the men were not ICE agents, they were Border Patrol agents – hanging out hours from the actual border.
He ends the thread by saying that although people have been asking to donate to him personally, he would rather see the money go to the ACLU or other non-profits that support immigrants.
The response to Elshieky’s thread has been huge. Not only did it makes its round on Twitter, but constituents from the area asked their local lawmakers to investigate the incident.
And some responded with statements, including state representative Pramila Jayapal.
Mohanad Elshiek is a rising star in the comedy world, who has recently been named a Team Coco Comic to Watch and the best undiscovered comic from Washington State by Thrillist. He started telling jokes as a teen on a radio station in Bengazi, and now tours nationally, telling jokes that cover a range of topics, including race, politics, and his experience coming to the United States.
Shortly after he was stopped, he returned to the stage at the White Owl Social Club to talk about the issue in the way he does best: through comedy.
“I’ve been living in the U.S. for four and a half years,” he opens, “and I think I need to speak to the manager. Because the product looks nothing like the image. I even read the reviews before moving here.”
He also released a final statement on Twitter, outlining his life before coming to the United States – and what led to his journey here.
He wrote about helping the American troops as a translator on the front lines in Libya, despite death threats, potential jail time, and being called a traitor by both sides. He also wrote about how he refuses to stay silent about what happened to him.
“I have no hate in my heart for the troops, the U.S., its laws, or the good people in it,” he wrote. “That being said, those who use their power to oppress others, to put in pain and to make this country a bad place are people who I will continue to call out publicly. I follow the laws, so they better do too.”
“A government agency has been unjust toward me, I called them out and told my story, I don’t have an agenda an I don’t work for anyone, I work toward what I think is right. Before you call me ungrateful, ask yourself what you have done to this country because I have probably done for it more than you, a person who just happened to be horn here. You did not choose to be here, I did… Next time you tell me to go back to my house, I will drive back to NW Portland where my home is.”
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