A Surreal Private Conversation With Amos Yee…
(Pictured below is a dream soliloquy involving Amos and myself; we could see each other up-close, and he could hear me speak but not vice versa; here’s how the one-sided conversation unfolded…)
Amos, how are you, are you doing OK. You know, your Immigration Judge last week, Judge Cole, did really knock all your naysayers for a loop me included, ruling in your favor. But darn it after a week, reality is fast setting in isn’t it. You’re beginning to understand asylum seeking is anything but simple. I see you are pouting your lips. I know it sucks. You should be out already celebrating with Melissa, instead you remain stuck in here. So let me tell you the purpose of my visit. I’m here to let you in on what lies ahead for you and to talk about your options.
Listen, your win last week is far from being final. You know it’s going to be appealed don’t you. I see you’re shaking your head in disbelief. OK, let me then first give you the lowdown on the asylum process you’re now up against and then tell you the reasons why your case will surely be appealed.
Amos, what I’m going to tell you about the U.S. asylum system will scare the bejesus out of you. The process is really convoluted. Your court victory last week represents just the tip of the iceberg. There is a massive machinery of legal zigzags you will be put through if you so choose to go the whole hog with your case. And here it goes … you just went through A successfully, the Immigration Court. DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) challenges you and takes you to B, the Board of Immigration Appeals, BIA for short, which comes under the Dept. of Justice, separate from DHS. If you lose at B, you may then appeal to C, the Federal Court of Appeals. And if you lose at C it’s over unless you want to go to D the highest court of the land which will take donkey’s years plus a million-dollar worth of attorney fees. But if you win at C, you’ll then have to come back to B and then be remanded back to A. Now, if you win at B after winning at A which you did, you would think with 2 wins you would carry the day and become the happy newly-anointed asylee. Well, you have another think coming. Brace yourself, here’s the kicker. The AG that is the Attorney General who is head of the Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions is his name, may however certify a BIA decision to himself and thereafter issue a new independent decision. Sounds a mouthful of legalese? You bet you — the AG could intervene and take over your case. And if Mr. Sessions decides against you, you’ll have to take it to C and run the legal gauntlet I detailed a minute ago.
Are you still with me? I see your ears just pricked up, you can’t wait to hear the reasons for DHS’s soon-to-be appeal against your asylum which can come any day now. But before I state the reasons I’ll also give you the odds of your winning asylum in the end. Truth be told: the odds of you winning the appeal eventually are about even with the odds of DHS not appealing against you. Are you ready, they are both pegged at less than 1%. Oh Amos, quit looking daggers at me … I’m just giving you my unvarnished honest read of the facts.
And here now the reasons you’ll not prevail in the end. The very short answer is because the second half of an asylum-granting equation can be political in nature. Let’s take a moment to parse that. For the sake of argument here, let’s assume Judge Cole’s judgement was 100% spot on, which evidently it isn’t, and you can read about his judicial errors in one of my posts, the 10 Reasons, when you are out someday. [https://lester978.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/ten-reasons-why-amos-yees-asylum-victory-will-be-short-lived/] But for now I want you to imagine what the international headlines will be the following day if the Trump Admin let you get away with it? ‘A Singapore brat wins U.S. asylum with his trinity of ultimate insults, i.e., of LKY, Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad.’ Amos, you can dream on but your asylum just ain’t going to happen in the end. It surely will not happen under Trump or with Obama or even Hillary for that matter. Amos, if there is a nifty catchphrase that best captures your current dubious asylum situation in the U.S. it would be, ‘Amos is no Yu Jie; we want him ostracized.’ I see you’re puckering your brows. Let me briefly explain who he is. Yu Jie is a 43-year-old famous Chinese dissident writer who was granted asylum in the States in 2012. But comparing his to your case, would be like going from the sublime to the ridiculous. As an intellectual and critic, he suffered years of physical torture and persecution at home. He was beaten near death and Chinese doctors saved his life. Now, this is not meant to embarrass you here Amos. For the 6-week sentence of yours in 2016, did you not serve just half of it? … spent the other 3 weeks at home, glued to your TV, feasting your eyes on Trump’s election. I see you’re smirking there. So honestly, you consider that to be persecution and ill-treatment or is it more like kid-glove TLC by your government at home? I take that deadpan facial expression of yours to mean no comment. OK, I got it. Two more things here before I move on to your options. Mr. Yu Jie, despite all the publicity surrounding his asylum application then, took 9 months to finally obtain his asylum wish and you Mr. Amos Yee did it in 3. This should be in the Guinness Book of Records if you can hold it. You’re snickering there. Finally, a relevant side interest of the AG I thought you should know. Before he moved to Washington D.C. recently to assume his AG post, Mr. Sessions taught Sunday school as an avocation at his local church in his hometown in Mobile, Alabama. I see the frown on your face but let’s move on.
So what are your options?
a) You can withdraw your asylum application or, as Melissa Chen your personal mentor would urge, ‘go big or go home’. If you return home, you’ll not likely be doubly punished because the government understands you’ve suffered enough … but if you delay too long it may be a different story.
b) However, if you chose to go big, you could remain in there for years, past your 21st birthday. Surely you can get your kindly pro bono lawyer Ms. Grossman to motion the court for your release on humanitarian grounds. Amos, you’re getting a lot of free stuff and service and help. I hope someday as you get older, you’ll pay them back with gratitude.
c) But if you don’t get out, try do a correspondence course with a local community college towards some paper qualification if you could. Reading alone on your own all the way through is not a good idea.
d) Of course, you should try composing your autobiography which you’ll not get to complete without access to the Net. So I would suggest you also work on some creative writing which could be done offline. One literary genre I would suggest would be cyberpunk. The style and language of such a genre would fit right up your alley at this phase of your life.
Wow, how time goes. You’re just now getting ready for early morning breakfast. Time for me to go too. Amos, I hope you’ll pick the right option and avoid mistakes of the past. Best of luck to you. So long kid.