SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) A Sudanese man was arrested Thursday morning in San Francisco by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after his asylum interview, an unprecedented move by immigration officials, according to the man's attorney.
Attorney Caleb Arring, the attorney for San Jose resident Omer Abdelmaed, said in a Facebook post that he thinks U.S. officials arrested Abdelmaed because he is from Sudan, which is one of the countries on the first travel ban put in place by President Donald Trump.
Arring said Abdelmaed has no criminal history in the U.S. and was seeking asylum in America because he was arrested and tortured in Sudan for his support of democracy and equal rights.
"It is highly unprecedented for someone to be arrested at an asylum interview," Arring said. "The asylum office is supposed to be a place where people can feel safe to tell their story."
Abdelmaed was scheduled for an asylum interview at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. He and Arring arrived on time and were called in shortly before 9 a.m. The interview lasted about two hours, according to Arring.
Abdelmaed and Arring got up to leave after the interview with the asylum officer leading the way when the officer stopped at the door and said someone was outside. The officer told them that someone had a few more questions.
"This was alarming," Arring said. "I've never in the five plus years I've been attending asylum interviews had this happen."
Arring said less than a minute later someone who appeared to be a supervisor at the asylum office came in with three or four ICE agents who handcuffed Abdelmaed.
Arring said agents told him Abdelmaed had overstayed his visa and was in the country illegally.
ICE spokesman James Schwab confirmed in a statement today that Abdelmaed was taken into custody Thursday by immigration officers after they determined that he had violated the terms and conditions of a temporary visa he had been issued in 2014.
Additionally, according to Schwab, records indicated that Abdelmaed was wanted by law enforcement officials in the United Arab Emirates.
"Mr. Abdelmaed remains in ICE custody while his immigration court proceedings on are ongoing," Schwab said in the statement.
Arring's Facebook post can be found at https://www.facebook.com/caleb.arring/posts/10155549373688152.