Ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Gopalan Nair. My expertise in US Immigration law is as follows. I have been practicing US immigration law from my Fremont (San Francisco) California office for more than 20 years. My specialty is immigration including asylum and removal proceedings. My law firm is Gopalan Nair Attorneys at Law at 39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A2, Fremont, CA 94538. My phone number is 510 491 8525.
Most asylum applicants who apply for asylum from within the United States after having been admitted at a port of entry are not detained. Amos Yee Pang Sang's case is an aberration. Perhaps he was wrongly advised. Most asylum applicants if coming in through a US port of entry have visitors visas as was the case with Amos Yee Pang Sang. If Yee had informed the immigration officers at Chicago Airport that he was merely coming for a visit in accordance with his visitor visa (Visa Waiver) status, he should have been allowed to enter.
It is true that it is not entirely honest for a traveler seeking admission at a port of entry to say that he is coming for a visit when his real intention is to apply for asylum but since the law allows for this and since people can change their minds, there is really nothing wrong to do this. In any case, this is what is routinely done. At present I am representing 3 asylum cases from Singapore. 2 came in last year and one this year. 2 are all working with work permits while waiting for their asylum. They were not detained.
But since Yee had himself admitted to the airport that he is in fact coming to apply for asylum when his visa status is visitor, this is a violation of his visa status which requires the immigration to detain him until the end of the proceedings.
In the past when someone obtained an asylum grant in custody, even if the Dept. of Homeland Security stated a desire to appeal, he is usually let out and if the appeal is granted, he should then be apprehended and removed. As you can see this practice is flawed and open to universal abuse since someone who was granted asylum will never be found in this huge United States, in the event the government succeeds in their appeal. Unless he himself voluntarily surrenders himself, the government would find it impossible to remove an alien who had lost in the government appeal. He could have moved anywhere in the 50 states. He would be able to stay in the US for the rest of his life, although illegal.
President Trump realizes this loophole and now demands that even those granted asylum, if detained, remain detained until the government's appeal is over. In the even that the government succeeds at the Board of Immigration Appeals, Yee will continue detained until Yee's appeal to the Court of Appeal is heard (that is if Yee wants to appeal).
There is a remedy for those who are held for extensive periods in custody awaiting a decision known as Rodriguez bond hearings (Rodriguez vs Robbins). Usually those being detained are entitled to request release on bond every six months on the ground that it is patently unjust to detain a man for extended periods while waiting for hearings or decisions. This problem can be overcome if the case is heard expeditiously and no grave prejudice is suffered by the inmate due to the delay.
I think therefore Yee is not going to be released until the outcome of the appeal of the government before the Board of Immigration Appeals, Falls Church Virginia.
Coming to the case, I think that Yee is going to lose his case for several reasons. If you read Judge Cole's decision, a great deal of his decision was based on background information on Singapore, that is, it is a one party state, it has no free press, no right to free protest, the courts are biased and so on. And using this background material, the judge tried to connect Yee's case to these background facts and therefore decides, Yee was persecuted after all. One such reasoning, trying to stretch the facts to fit the outcome you want is when he referred to Yee's video of "Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead". The judge says that since nearly all that video is a criticism of Lee Kuan Yew and since only a fraction was about insulting Christianity, therefore the prosecution for religious hate is unwarranted!
There is an adage that goes like this, "Give a dog a bad name and hang him". This is exactly what Judge Cole and Yee's attorney are doing here. Paint Singapore very black as a heartless bloodthirsty regime and conveniently claim therefore that Yee was persecuted after all.
No one can deny that Singapore is a dictatorship. We all know that. But the question here is not whether Singapore is a dictatorship but whether they have unjustly persecuted Yee. From these facts it cannot be said that he was persecuted. He was rightly charged and convicted for hate speech, an offense under Singapore law which stands up to international scrutiny as a just law in a multiracial and multi religious society.
The judge fails to see that first, Yee was never charged with anything political and second even if 0.1% of the video is about religious hatred, Singapore law still makes it an offense to promote religious hate and he still becomes guilty regardless of the fact that 99% of the video is about Lee Kuan Yew.
There is one part where Grossman, Yee's lawyer argues that Yee has been selectively prosecuted unlike others like Calvin Cheng and Jason Neo. If she knew the true facts and yet argues these 2 cases as evidence of selected persecution, she is not being entirely honest. Both Calvin Cheng and Jason Neo, who had made disparaging remarks about other races and religions, when challenged, immediately and unconditionally apologized and undertook never to do it again. Since then they have never again insulted any other race or religion.
Yee on the other hand claims he has a right to insult others and their religions and has sworn that he intends to continue doing it. In such a case did he expect to have been let off like Calvin Cheng or Jason Neo? Yee is almost a professional religious hater which he does using the utmost of vulgarities obscenities and profanities. He has said he is determined to continue insulting Islam and Christianity repeatedly using the words "F............ing". Did he expect Singapore courts to allow him to continue in this manner? Of course not. There was nothing wrong in not prosecuting Calvin Cheng and Jason Neo. But Yee deserved prosecution.
Moreover it is necessary for his own safety not to release him. It is publicly well known even in the Muslim community in the US that he has insulted Islam and is determined to continue doing so. The Muslims in Singapore have been a very tolerant lot so far to have left Yee alone, but to release him to the society in the US, a gun carrying society, can mean his murder. On that score as well, he should not be released for his own good until the appeal is heard.
I am sure the Department of Homeland Security understands the situation in Singapore better now and some of the absurd arguments made in in this case in court. I have a strong feeling that he will not be released during the pendency of the appeal, the government's appeal will be allowed and he will be retuned to Singapore.
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont San Francisco California
Tel: 510 491 8525