This man's encounter with border patrol should have us all brushing up on our legal rights.

A comedian traveling by bus in Washington state shared his not-so-funny, Gestapo-esque encounter with U.S. border patrol agents.

Mohanad Elshieky is a stand-up comedian originally from Benghazi, Libya (yes, that Benghazi) but is living in Portland Oregon. Elshieky told  Willamette Week that he was officially granted political asylum in the U.S. in October 2018, which makes him a legal resident of the United States.

However, that status appeared to not matter to the immigration officials who allegedly boarded the bus Elshieky was on this weekend.


"This morning," Elshieky wrote on Twitter, "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," he continued, "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."

Elshieky provided his documentation, but the border patrol agents insisted that he was "illegal."

Elshieky wrote that the agents called immigration to verify his information, and he could hear the person on the phone say that he was in the country legally. But, he said, "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 told Willamette Week that his immigration lawyer had told him that carrying his ID and his work permit would be sufficient for proving his legal status if it ever came up. But the agents were unrelenting, insisting that he needed different "papers."

Elshieky said he'd "never felt as terrible" as he did during the experience—which is saying a lot considering he's an asylee.

This is a man who has been granted asylum, meaning that the U.S. government has determined that it is unsafe for him to be sent back to his home country. And yet, that same government is now allegedly using classic anti-immigrant intimidation tactics to harass him and make him feel unwelcome in his adopted country.

"To be honest, I have never felt as terrible as I did today," he wrote. "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 5 years working my ass off, I was still considered 'Other,' he wrote, "and I have never felt as alone as I did in that station full of people."

Elshieky shared a photo of the agents and discovered that what he originally thought was ICE were likely Customs and Border Patrol agents. The main difference between ICE and CBP is that CBP patrols border areas, whereas ICE operates in all areas of the United States. Spokane, WA is about 120 miles from the Canadian border. (Just outside the standard 100-miles from a border boundary, which is CBP's jurisdiction.)

Stories like this should have us all brushing up on our legal rights—and questioning what we're willing to give up for "security."

If this story is true, it paints a terrifying picture of a government agency with enormous power over the lives of individuals using racial discrimination and intimidation tactics to harass people. Any one of us could be accused of being here illegally, and if we don't have the proper "papers" could be subject to all manner of injustices.

The ACLU has provided an infographic detailing your rights if you are stopped by a border patrol agent. At the very least, Elshieky's story is reminder for us to brush up on those legal protections, both for our own sake and for the people around us.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.