Ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Gopalan Nair, an Attorney in California with over 20 years of experience. I have done hundreds of asylum cases countries from as far and wide as Tajikistan to Pakistan. My telephone number is (510) 491 8525 and my Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I practice in the San Francisco area. Immigration is federal practice which allows me to represent client in all 50 states of the US.
I had earlier stated in my blog that I thought Amos Yee will be grated asylum. On re-looking at his case I have serious doubts that he will.
US grants asylum based on human rights under international laws and conventions such as the Human Rights Charter and its applicability to US law. If a country is seen to violate the rights of an individual under these laws and those rights are protected under US law, he is granted asylum.
It is true that freedom of speech is a protected ground. However this right is not examined in isolation but in relation to the prevailing circumstances in any country.
Singapore is a multi racial tiny island city state so overcrowded that people not only live next to each other but above them in high rise apartment blocks owned by the state. Jam packed like sardines. Therefore the possibility of racial disharmony and its consequences can be so serious that it will effectively even destroy the country. Realizing this, according to the laws of the Republic of Singapore, they have laws in place that criminalize words or conduct that may cause distress to other races or religions.
Similarly in France and Germany it is a criminal offense to deny the Holocaust. Not to say that there is no freedom of speech in Germany but because the unique history of Nazism which is still raw in the minds of many Germans, the state felt there is a need to criminalize such conduct. As far as I know, there is no German charged with such an offense who ever got asylum in the United States.
Singapore should not be compared to the United States. It is a large country and its society is more sophisticated buttressed with the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, part of it's social ethos. Singapore on the other hand is a tiny overcrowded multi racial city state with a mere 50 year history which has not had the history of the United States. What can be tolerated in the US does not necessarily become tolerable in that tiny island.
Singapore island has been lucky that since 1967 there has been no race riots. It is for this reason that the island justifies such laws.
These laws are applied equally and fairly without any discrimination. Also it has been said that because he was only 17, the state should go easy on him. But if a 17 year old can cause island wide riots like in 1967, he should be stopped for the sake of everyone.
Although I have not read or seen all his blogs and videos, he has gone to the extent of drawing caricatures of trying to have sex with a crucifix and with the Islamic Holy book the Koran. If he is allowed to do this, what next? Should he be allowed to stand outside a Muslim mosque at Friday prayer and hold up a sign saying "F........K Islam". And if so would you not expect any violence from the Muslims? And would not the Singaporean ethnic Chinese retaliate? And what about the Indian Hindus?
The judge should in this case realize the peculiar circumstances of the tiny multi racial city state. Looking at it from that perspective, he should deny this asylum claim that the laws in place were fair and fairly applied to all Singaporeans. Remember he not only had these repulsive anti religion videos. He also, in the most foul language insulted the late Prime Minister and the Singapore government. But the government did not charge him for any of that. He was only charged for his anti religion speech in the crudest manner imaginable.
I don't think his lawyer the American Sandra Grossman has ever heard of Singapore before this, let alone the peculiar circumstances of the multi racial tiny island city state of Singapore. And I would probably guess that the Immigration Judge who will hear this case does not know much about the island either. Singapore is not a high volume asylum traffic country to the US.
His case is now probably before the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and it may take several years before it gets to a judge. Of course, if he passes his credible fear interview, he will ordinarily be released on bail while he waits. If you wish to make your views heard and be of assistance in this case, you should first write to the jail where he presently held, at the following address and seek his Alien Registration Number (A number) by which he is identified. With this A number, whatever you write will readily go into his file. His name is Amos Yee Pang Sang. Date of birth 1998
McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility
2200 N Seminary Ave
Woodstock, IL 60098
Tel: 312 347 2400
He is, I believe, presently under the jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His case has not gone before the judge yet. His credible fear interview is handled by ICE. Their address is the following. You can write to them.
Chicago Field Office
101 West Congress Parkway, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: (312) 347 2400
Although I don't believe the case has gone to the Immigration Court their address is
Chicago Immigration Court
525 West Van Buren Street, Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60607
Tel: 312 697 5800
Finally the office of the government counsel, US Department of Homeland Security, who would be opposing this asylum clam is as follows.
DHS Office of Chief Counsel
525 W Van Buren St, Suite 701
Chicago, IL 60607
Tel: 312 542 8200
Anyone can write to these authorities and help them understand the situation in Singapore. You could refer to the Singapore Penal Code Sections under which he was charged, why you think the laws are necessary or otherwise and provide the videos and copies of his blog for which he was charged. I think this will help seek justice.
The authorities will be of course carrying out their own investigations but since this is such a high profile case, I am sure your input will be appreciated.
I hope that justice will be done.
Attorney at Law
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525