Two years after detailing an encounter with immigration officials at a bus stop in Washington on Twitter, formerly Portland-based comedian Mohanad Elshieky has been awarded a settlement from the federal government.
In January 2019, Elshieky, who is from Libya, was removed from a Greyhound bus in Spokane, Wash., by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and questioned about his citizenship. Elshieky came to the United States in 2014 and was granted political asylum in 2018.
Elshieky tweeted that the officers interrogated him 20 minutes, accusing him of falsifying his immigration documents and referring to him as “illegal.”
“This is not about illegal immigration,” Elshieky told WW at the time. “This is about immigration in general from certain countries. They’re saying, ‘We don’t want them to be here and we’re going to make it hard for them to be here.’”
Three months later, Elshieky sued Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security in federal court. Today, the National Immigration Rights Project announced that CPB has agreed to pay Elshieky $35,000 in restitution.
The agency reached the same settlement with another man, Andres Sosa Segura, for a similar incident that occurred in 2017.
“To have the same government that is supposed to protect me accuse me of lying and being here illegally really shook me and undermined my hard-fought sense of safety,” Elshieky said in a press release. “I’ll never forget the harassment and humiliation by the officers when it was clear I belonged in the United States and on that bus. I hope my experience can at least be a wake-up call for others, and a lesson for the CBP and its agents to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and to honor their rights.”
On Twitter, Elshieky—who now lives in New York and works as a writer for Full Frontal With Samantha Bee—added, “Maybe next time they should refrain from harassing immigrants.”