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.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

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"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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