Comedian traveling home from gig ordered off bus and detained by Border Patrol agents

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Comedian Mohanad Elshieky said on Monday that he was detained by Border Patrol agents while traveling home from a gig. The comedian, who is originally from Libya, was on his way from Spokane, Washington, to Portland, Oregon, where he lives. He said the Greyhound bus he was on stopped and the agents got on.

"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,'" Elshieky tweeted on Monday.

His Twitter thread about the interaction has gone viral, with over 100,000 Twitter users engaging with his posts.

This morning, 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”.

— Mohanad Elshieky (@MohanadElshieky) January 27, 2019

"I explained to them that I was granted Asylum here in the United States, and that the work permit they currently hold and the license are impossible to get unless your presence here is legal," Elshieky tweeted. "They told me that I was lying and these could pretty much be falsified."

The comedian originally thought the agents worked for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but later learned they worked for Customs and Border Protections. He wrote that the agents called an immigration office to confirm that he was in the U.S. legally. He said he could hear the person on the other line confirm he had entered legally.

"The ICE agent ended the call and then said, 'There are no records of your Asylum,' and I again said that was impossible," Elsheiky wrote. "Then [they] said I should [have] had my Asylum approval on me which is ridiculous, why would I carry that where I have my IDs."

Elsheiky said throughout the interaction he kept it together and told the agents that what they were doing was illegal. He told them that he would call his lawyer and take legal action if his documents were not given back to him.

"Another ICE agent then started yelling at me to take my hands out of my pockets and I did which is stupid because it was snowing and they were wearing gloves and my hands were freezing cold," Elsheiky tweeted.

"They handed my documents back and said, 'Next time, have your papers on you,' which means nothing because I did and they said they were fake," he wrote.

"To be honest, I have never felt as terrible as I did today," the comedian tweeted. "I have never imagined that I would have to go through this."

Elsheiky said this experience was another reminder that "even though I have been here for 5 years working my ass off, I was still considered 'Other,' and I have never felt as alone as I did in that station full of people."

He later tweeted about what he has overcome as a Libyan seeking asylum, who has become a successful comedian in the U.S. "I have survived a revolution and a civil war and lived in Benghazi my whole life and managed to get through that and come here and start a comedy career that has been taking off well," he wrote. "So stop sending me hate mail and racist s**** into my DM because you're not gonna break me fools."

Elsheiky, who was named a "comedian to watch" by Conan O'Brien, often tweets about political issues, particularly those relating to immigration and border security.

In true comedic fashion, Elsheiky ended the thread with a joke. "The ironic part is that I [thought] that smell on the Greyhound bus was gonna be the worst part of the trip," he joked, adding: "Also, f*** you @GreyhoundBus. You could have easily not let those agents on the bus but you're just as s***ty as you smell."

The comedian shared photos of the agents, which appears to have been taken from the bus window. Several Twitter users said they looked like Customs and Border Protection agents, and Elsheiky later tweeted a correction saying he did not know the difference between their uniforms and the ones ICE agents wear.

He also shared screenshots of his ticket to verify he was on the bus.

"There was snow on the floor and it was freezing cold in Spokane. Feel free to ask me anything," he ended the thread.

Here is a photo of the racist trash Fox News call “heroes”. pic.twitter.com/oXbSfoKvB7

— Mohanad Elshieky (@MohanadElshieky) January 27, 2019

Some people have brought to my attention that based on the photos I taken, those were CBP and not ICE. Here is a photo of my ticket in case anyone wants to make sure I was on the bus. There was snow on the floor and it was freezing cold in Spokane. Feel free to ask me anything. pic.twitter.com/s6X7EKxuj3

— Mohanad Elshieky (@MohanadElshieky) January 28, 2019

The comedian received thousands of replies on his tweets, with some people tagging lawmakers, hoping to get their attention on the issue. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined the thousands of people who retweeted Elshieky, writing: "One of these days, I hope people realize that the idea that ICE should be scrapped isn't so crazy after all. ICE jails children in for-profit detention centers funded by private equity grps. Kids are dying w/ 0 accountability. If that's not totally broken, I don't know what is."

Elshieky continued to tweet about the incident throughout Monday, and shared an article from a local Portland newspaper, Willamette Week. "For anyone who claimed that my story was made up, here is an official response from CBP confirming the incident," he wrote. "They also now say that my Asylum status was valid even though at the time they said there was no record of it on their system."

"While performing transportation checks, agents made contact with Mohanad Elshieky," a CBP spokesman confirmed in a statement to Willamette Week. "Mr. Elshieky stated he was from Libya and presented the agents with an Oregon driver's license and an Employment Authorization Card (EAD). As with anyone who needs to have their immigration status verified, Mr. Elshieky was asked to exit the bus. After the approximately 20 minutes needed to verify his status, Mr. Elshieky was allowed to board the bus and continue his travels without delay."

CBS News has reached out to Mr. Elshieky and Customs and Border Protection and is awaiting response.

First published on January 29, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Comedian ordered off bus and detained by Border Patrol agents

"To be honest, I have never felt as terrible as I did today," the comedian tweeted. "I have never imagined that I would have to go through this."

updated 12M ago

Howard Schultz on a 2020 run: "I think I can beat the system"

Democrats and other critics of President Trump are urging the former Starbucks chairman and CEO to reconsider his potential plans for 2020

1H ago

Super Bowl ad features aspiring female NFL player

Toni Harris will be one of the few women ever to play college football

1H ago

Women-centric workspaces are on the rise

Many predate the #MeToo movement, but this "safe space" trend is now gaining strength nationwide

1H ago

Actor who plays El Chapo describes "surreal" encounter with drug lord

The notorious Mexican drug lord said in court Monday he will not testify in his own defense at his federal trial

1H ago

Intelligence chiefs provide updates on worldwide threats — live updates

FBI's Chris Wray and DNI Dan Coats are testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee

updated 5M ago

Jeff Flake: "I will not be a candidate" in 2020

The former Republican senator who emerged as an outspoken Trump critic is joining CBS News as a contributor

updated 14M ago

Howard Schultz on a 2020 run: "I think I can beat the system"

Democrats and other critics of President Trump are urging the former Starbucks chairman and CEO to reconsider his potential plans for 2020

1H ago

"5,000 troops to Colombia"? Nation responds to Bolton's note

Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said Colombia does not know the "importance and reason" for Bolton's note

1H ago

Deaths mount as U.S. ups pressure on Venezuela's Maduro

United Nations says 40 people have been killed and hundreds more arrested as U.S. tightens financial noose on embattled president

2H ago

Deaths mount as arrests sought over Brazil dam collapse

Police issue 5 warrants, reportedly for employees of mining giant Vale which owns the dam that failed, killing at least 65 people

updated 52M ago

"5,000 troops to Colombia"? Nation responds to Bolton's note

Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said Colombia does not know the "importance and reason" for Bolton's note

1H ago

Deaths mount as U.S. ups pressure on Venezuela's Maduro

United Nations says 40 people have been killed and hundreds more arrested as U.S. tightens financial noose on embattled president

2H ago

Pakistani court ends Christian woman's legal nightmare

Aasia Bibi had been on death row for insulting Islam, and even after acquittal she was force to live in hiding; now she is free to leave the country

4H ago

U.S. charges Chinese telecom giant Huawei with fraud, stealing trade secrets

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker says the Chinese telecom giant orchestrated a "concerted effort" to steal trade secrets in the U.S.

2H ago

"This Is Us" star sells Girl Scout cookies at SAG Awards

The 11-year-old earned a Screen Actors Guild Award – and a badge, too

16H ago

How to watch the 2019 Super Bowl

The New England Patriots will face the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta in Super Bowl LIII — here's everything you need to know

7H ago

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga sing "Shallow" in surprise performance

"So, I'm gonna be a little chance-y … Yo Bradley, you wanna come up and do this one?" Gaga asked during her "Enigma" performance Saturday night at Park MGM resort

Jan 28

XXXTentacion's son born 7 months after rapper's death in Florida

Rapper's girlfriend Jenesis Sanchez gave birth Saturday to baby boy Gekyume Onfroy

Jan 27

Meet the "Sunday Morning" Sun Queen

For 20 years associate director Jessica Frank has been handpicking every shining example of sun artwork to appear on our program – about 9,000 and counting

Jan 27

Polar vortex's possible boost from global warming

Some scientists think the natural phenomenon bringing brutally cold weather to much of the nation has an unlikely helper

1H ago

Apple FaceTime bug turns your iPhone into hot mic

Apple spokesperson said, "We're aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week"

7H ago

Apple, Facebook and other tech giants face critical week

High-tech industry in the spotlight this week as investors look for signs that growth is holding up

19H ago

Meet the man behind a third of what's on Wikipedia

Steven Pruitt has made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles — all for free

Jan 27

Amazon facial technology shows bias, researchers say

Facial-detection technology that Amazon markets to law enforcement often misidentifies women, particularly those with darker skin, according to new research

Jan 25

Growing measles outbreak in Washington spreading fear among parents

Washington state has declared a public health emergency, with more than 50 places confirmed as a "public exposure location"

2H ago

Lowering blood pressure could cut risk of memory issues, study finds

The study looked at the effect of more intensive blood pressure control and risk of developing mild cognitive impairment

15H ago

Possible listeria contamination sparks fruit recall

Thousands of pieces of fruit recalled in 18 states because they may be contaminated with harmful bacteria listeria

19H ago

Vaping among teens, kids "threatens five decades" of gains, experts say

American Academy of Pediatrics says 20% of high school students, 5% of middle school students use e-cigarettes, call for more federal regulation

Jan 28

Their twins' medical costs top $1 million. Can GoFundMe help?

Some 250,000 GoFundMe campaigns have been set up to raise money for people facing steep health care costs

17H ago

Women-centric workspaces are on the rise

Many predate the #MeToo movement, but this "safe space" trend is now gaining strength nationwide

1H ago

U.S.-China trade talks could be complicated by Huawei charges

Criminal charges against the Chinese tech giant may muddy trade talks intended to defuse the trade war

1H ago

Laid off? You may not get paid for unused time off

As workers who just lost their jobs at BuzzFeed learned, whether you get paid depends on what state you live in

1H ago

Wildfire-scorched PG&E files for bankruptcy

California's biggest utility's faces up to $30 billion in liability for recent wildfires thought to have been caused by its equipment

5H ago

U.S. charges Chinese telecom giant Huawei with fraud, stealing trade secrets

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker says the Chinese telecom giant orchestrated a "concerted effort" to steal trade secrets in the U.S.

2H ago

Cop charged in Russian roulette death appears injured in mugshot

Nathaniel Hendren is in custody three days after he was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Katlyn Alix

2H ago

Passenger stabs, kills pregnant Lyft driver in Tempe, Ariz.

Police arrested suspect some 133 miles away after, they say, he stole her SUV, which they think was the motive for the attack

1H ago

Will El Chapo testify in his own defense?

Defense attorneys have raised the possibility of calling "El Chapo" as a witness

18H ago

Wild road rage incident caught on camera

The man on the hood is grateful a fellow driver with a gun finally helped stop the SUV

Jan 28

Moving company accused of holding customers' belongings hostage

Florida attorney general has filed suit against companies that use deceptive practices, hold customers' belongings hostage

Jan 28  Original Article