After a 2-month journey from Central America, a Pakistani migrant ends up in detention in the United States


CALEXICO, Calif. (Border Report) — After a two-month trek through Central America and Mexico, Nabeel Younis has finally arrived in the United States, albeit in federal custody and quarantine.

Other than that, the Pakistani national’s friends and family know little about his condition or well-being inside the Imperial Regional Detention Center in Calexico, California.

“They control access and it’s a shame, that’s not how this country was built, that’s for sure,” said Fitzgerald Kelly, a friend of Younis.

Kelly told Border Report he’s known Younis for about five years and the two have traveled together.

He also said that a few days ago he had the opportunity to speak on the phone with Younis, 27.

“I could barely understand what he was saying, but he told me he was in quarantine and after two weeks he would get some kind of audition,” Kelly said.

As a general rule, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, most migrants detained after being apprehended for crossing the border illegally must be isolated to ensure that they are not carriers of the COVID-19 virus.

Imperial Regional Detention Center where Nabeel Younis is being held. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

After this period, they have the possibility to start their asylum application.

Younis told Border Report last week that he wanted to seek asylum in the United States and that’s why he originally left Pakistan.

It was three years ago when he and a group of friends attended an event for Pope Francis in Panama.

They stayed and never returned home.

“Pakistan is 97% Muslim, Muslims in Pakistan are really very oppressive towards everyone who is not Muslim,” Kelly said. “He’s been driven for a long time by his search for a place where he can actually act as a number one Christian, and also be free.”

After his stay in Panama, Younis and some friends left for the United States in November.

A few weeks later, they arrived in Tijuana but were arrested and sent to a migrant detention center just south of the border.

“We were stopped by federal and I was in jail for almost a month,” Younis told Border Report.

Younis was later released and sent to a shelter in Tijuana, where he considered his next move.

He and his friends decided to leave for the border between Calexico and Mexicali, Mexico, about 120 miles east of San Diego.

They crossed the border fence but were apprehended north of the border.

Since then, Younis has been at the Imperial Regional Detention Center, which is operated by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We don’t know where his friends are.

“He’s strong, he’s smart, he wants to educate himself and wants to be in the medical field,” Kelly said. “He’s what this country needs.”

Border Report reached out to ICE last week, seeking to set up an on-camera interview with Younis. Four days later, a media representative reached out saying they were looking into the matter. On Wednesday morning, ICE said it wouldn’t happen until next week, but only by phone.

And details about Younis’ case are also not made public.

Kelly said he and others were in the process of hiring an attorney to represent Younis.

Border Report will continue to follow Younis’ case as it progresses.


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