Portland comedian Mohanad Elshieky sued the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security after federal agents removed him from a Greyhound bus in Spokane, Wash., and questioned his citizenship status.
The government granted Elshieky, who is from Libya, asylum in October 2018. Despite his legal status, the border patrol agents interrogated Elshieky for about 20 minutes, a CBP spokesman told WW in January.
Elshieky's tweets about the experience went viral in January.
A CBP spokesman told WW in January the stop was routine, and the border patrol agents had authority to question Elshieky because he was not carrying the documents that verify his asylum status.
The suit says when Elshieky provided identification and told the officers he had been granted asylum and was a legal resident of the U.S., the officers replied with skepticism, saying "illegals fake these [documents] all the time and use them," "we've heard this all before," and "illegals say that all the time."
Eventually, the agents allowed Elshieky to board the bus and return to Portland.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project are representing Elshieky in the lawsuit, which claims CBP officers violated his rights by unlawfully detaining the comedian and targeting him because of his race.
"As a matter of policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not comment on pending litigation," says CBP spokesman Jason Givens. "However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations."