Update on Amos Yee’s detention by Grossman Law

Below is an update published by Singaporean blogger Amos Yee’s attorney, Sandra Grossman from Grossman Law, LLC

On March 27, 2017, Officers at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Chicago Field Office informed Grossman Law, LLC that Amos Yee will remain in detention despite the Honorable Immigration Judge’s asylum grant on March 24, 2017. Yee has been detained since December 17, 2016.

When ICE officers first detained Yee, they stated he would be released on parole and that ICE had no interest in keeping Yee detained for the pendency of his proceedings. Then, after release of the new Administration’s Executive Orders, ICE informed Grossman Law that they would not release Yee. Subsequently, after Yee’s merits hearing, ICE moved him to another detention facility without informing counsel about the transfer. Now, ICE officers are basing the decision to keep Yee detained on a potential, but not yet filed, appeal by the Department of Homeland Security.

Grossman Law has learned from the Assistant Field Office Director for ICE’s Chicago Field Office that “…detained aliens who are granted relief remain in custody during the pendency of an ICE appeal, except in extraordinary circumstances.” Additionally, Amos Yee informed us via telephone that other individuals he has met at the Dodge County facility, remain in detention despite a grant of asylum. The decision to deny Yee his freedom is not limited just to him, but to many others.

ICE’s decision to continue to detain individuals granted asylum, especially when there are no security concerns, brings up serious questions about this country’s compliance with basic principles of international law regarding the treatment of asylees. There is no provision under the Immigration and Nationality Act, or under any Presidential Executive Order, that justifies the continued detention of an individual who has been granted asylum and is deemed to be a refugee. The supposed pendency of the Department’s appeal is immaterial; Yee should have been released immediately after he was granted asylum.

As the American Immigration Lawyers Association notes:

“America’s immigration detention practices undermine the fundamental principles of due process and fairness, and require immediate systemic reform. Annually, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unnecessarily detains more than 400,000 people, including asylum seekers and other extremely vulnerable immigrants. Many detainees are held for prolonged periods despite the fact that they have strong ties to the United States and pose no threat to public safety.

Detention is extremely expensive, costing American taxpayers $2 billion per year. Proven alternatives to detention, by contrast, cost between 17 cents and $17 per day. Detention should be a last resort, used only when other means of supervision are not feasible, and only after a truly individualized assessment of someone’s public safety and flight risk.” 

Grossman Law, LLC is renewing a request to release Yee on humanitarian parole and is exploring all other viable legal options.