Amos Yee Granted Asylum After Being Jailed For Nearly 10 Months
Hide your kids folks, cause Amos Yee is back. The controversial YouTuber has finally been released from Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee, Illinois on Wednesday morning (27 Sept), after the Board of Immigrant Appeals (BIA) dismissed the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) appeal against offering Yee asylum.
This means that Amos Yee is now a free man.
And boy did he celebrate.
The 18-year-old spent a good 10 months (293 days) behind bars after he was first arrested at O’Hare International Airport, Chicago on 17 December 2016. Yee had fled to America with the hopes of obtaining political asylum after the Singapore government had thrown him into jail twice, for wounding religious feelings.
Given that his jail time in Singapore did little to silence his opinons, it will only be a matter of time before Yee returns to YouTube and other online platforms.
Until the former child actor makes his return, here are 10 interesting facts about Yee’s time in the United States of America.
1. Stayed in 3 different detention facilities
Despite being behind bars for only 10 months, Amos has been to 3 different American prisons.
(i) December 2016, McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility, Woodstock, Illinois — 3 months
(ii) April 2017, Dodge Detention Facility in Juneau, Wisconsin — 5 months
(iii) August 2017, Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee, Illinois — 1 month
2. Robbed by ‘Bubba’ Reyes
Yee will probably remember his stay in Dodge Detention Facility the most, given that he was robbed there on numerous occasions by fellow prisoner ‘Bubba’ Reyes.
At the facility, inmates were allowed to buy food and snacks at the prison kiosk, using money sent by their family and friends. Bubba began targeting Yee and other Asian inmates and robbed them of snacks.
Yee was so terrified of Bubba that he requested to be transferred to another part of the prison.
3. Granted asylum in March 2017
Yee could have escaped all the torment in jail if he had been released on 24 March 2017, the day his asylum appeal was approved.
Immigration Judge Samuel Cole had granted Yee’s request for political asylum. But, America’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told Yee’s lawyer, Sandra Grossman, that he would only be released after the judge’s order was finalized – a process which takes a “minimum of 30 days”.
However, the Department of Homeland Security had other ideas.
4. Homeland appealed against granting Yee asylum
Things took a turn for the worse for the 18-year-old when DHS appealed against the court’s ruling immediately after asylum was granted. The DHS argued that Yee deserved the punishments meted out by the Singaporeans courts as he had broken the law.
The DHS were also fearful that granting Yee asylum would:
“Serve as a symbol of hope to all of the internet bullies and conspiracy theorists throughout the world, that no matter how foul [their] behaviour, the United States will not allow anyone to stop them”
5. Might have been in jail because of Trump
Yee could have chosen to flee to America immediately after he was released from Changi Prison. But, the YouTuber waited until December 2016 to do so. This proved to be bad timing as Yee arrived weeks after everyone’s favourite dotard, Donald Trump, became President.
Trump’s clamp down on immigration did not do Yee’s case any favours. Chris Keeler, a colleague of Grossman, shared that given the clamp down, “our request for parole was denied”.
6. Had help from both Americans and Singaporeans
While Yee was fighting for his freedom in America, he was not alone. Yee’s mother, Mary Toh, revealed that help came from a myriad of sources, “including human rights organizations, an opposition leader in Singapore whose family was persecuted for their dissident views, and other Singaporean activists” who testified on his behalf.
Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Secretary-General of the Reform Party was just one of the Singaporeans who provided assistance.
Amos Yee also received help from his American supporter, Adam Lowisz, who helped coordinate Yee’s finances and media postings.
7. Gained weight from snacking
It seems the American prison life suits Yee after he appeared to have put on a few kilos in the photo on the right.
Mr Lowisz told BuzzFeedNews that Yee had gained a few pounds from “all the snacks”. Yee spent so much on food that another ally, Theodore Gray, had written to Lowisz to complain about Yee’s spending.
8. Picked up chess in jail
Mr Lowisz also shared that Yee had requested for chess manuals by chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer whilst in prison. Apparently, the manuals were of great help as Yee began beating other inmates in the game.
Asylum granted means we have more YouTube material to look forward to from Amos Yee
According to TODAY, Amos Yee will need to stay in the US for a year to be eligible to apply for a green card, which means the earliest he can do so is Sept 2018.
But perhaps the most insightful quote of Amos Yee comes from the same TODAY article. Amos apparently has plans to continue to make videos on YouTube, with “much of [the videos] criticising the Singapore government”. He also brought up the possibility of expanding his videos to cover American politics as well, given that he’ll be there anyway.
While the US may embrace the ideals of free speech, we’ll just have to wait till his next video to find out what Amos Yee truly thinks of America. And given that Amos isn’t exactly a fan of President Donald Trump, those views are bound to get a few views themselves.
Featured Image via Facebook