SPOKANE, Wash. — Comedian Mohanad Elshieky addressed an incident where border patrol agents at the Spokane Greyhound bus station stopped him and asked for his papers during a set in Portland on Monday.
Elshieky, who says he has been granted asylum in the U.S. and has a legal work permit, tweeted that ICE agents took his documents and interrogated him for some time while was waiting to depart on a bus to Portland in Spokane.
He later corrected the tweet and said the agents were with border patrol and tweeted that they asked him to get off the bus.
According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson, Elshieky was asked for his documents once he said he was from Libya and the two documents he showed – his work permit and Oregon driver's license – were not considered legal for verifying his asylum seeker status. If Elshieky would have been carrying an I-94 form, which is paperwork showing that a person is in the asylum process, the situation could have been over quicker, according to the spokesperson.
The Oregonian posted a video of Elshieky’s Monday night set to its website and YouTube account on Monday night.
“One thing has come to my attention lately on this beautiful weekend I had in Washington state. An immigration officer told me I must carry my papers with me all the time, so just in case, I have them right here,” Elshieky said during his Monday night set at the White Owl Social Club in Portland.
Elshieky then took some papers out of his pocket.
“It’s all over the news now because I tweeted about it, and here’s the worst part. It’s not what happened to me and being detained. It’s now the fact that the whole country knows that I can only afford to ride Greyhound,” he continued later.
He also addressed his interaction with the Border Patrol agents in Spokane during the set.
“That’s all over the news because I got stopped by the wonderful friends at the immigration patrol. They were super nice honestly. They did not look racist at all,” he said sarcastically.
Elshieky had just finished performing a comedy routine at Washington State University in Pullman the night before agents stopped him in Spokane. He commented on the Pullman crowd during his Monday night set in Portland.
“Pullman, Washington – the best comedy crowd I’ve ever had,” he said.
“They sucked. I bombed so hard…like everyone marking themselves safe on Facebook,” Elshieky continued after a brief pause.
Elshieky also touched on his expectations of living in the U.S. compared to his reality.
“I’ve been living in the U.S. for four and a half years now and I think I need to speak to the manager. Because the product looks nothing like the image. I even read the reviews before moving here,” he said during his set.
Elshieky’s story went viral on Twitter and prompted news stories throughout the U.S. He said most of the comments he received online were positive while others were “garbage.”
Jokes helped Elshieky process the situation, he told The Oregonian after the show.
“Honestly, I’ve been angry all day. I’ve been upset all day, and I just want to talk to someone and just express myself,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s funny or not. I’m just going to talk about it.”