After trekking across several countries, languishing for over nine months in U.S. immigration custody, and then being denied protection from deportation, Yemeni national Osamah Mahyoub was granted asylum this week.
Immigration officials are set to release Mahyoub from Adams County Detention Center in Mississippi on Wednesday. It’s a triumph for Mahyoub, who was initially denied protection by immigration officials and faced deportation back to Yemen alongside Yemeni national Emad Al-Azabi. HuffPost published an investigation in May into their cases and long-term detention.
“Winning Osamah’s case was a true victory because he has endured a lot of pain and grief in his life in his home country of Yemen. He lost almost everything before fleeing to the United States,” Assma Ali, Mahyoub’s lawyer, told HuffPost.
“Now, he has another opportunity to live a life free of fear, intimidation, and violence,” Ali added. “Justice was served in this case, and cases like this give us hope that justice prevails at the end of the day.”
Mahyoub’s case demonstrated how difficult and fickle the U.S. immigration system can be, particularly under President Donald Trump, whose administration has made consistent efforts to limit asylum protections. But unlike many asylum-seekers, Mahyoub ultimately prevailed. He is set to fly to New York this week to join Al-Azabi, who was released in early June but is still waiting to be granted asylum.
Mahyoub and Al-Azabi fled Yemen due to threats on their lives by the local armed rebel group there and journeyed across eight Latin American countries to get to the United States. ICE detained them in November 2019.
U.S. officials initially determined that Mahyoub and Al-Azabi did not qualify for asylum because they did not have a “credible fear,” or a reason to fear persecution or torture in their home country.
After HuffPost’s initial story about their plight, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted both men new interviews. A few days later, USCIS reversed its decision and noted that both men did indeed have a credible fear. Al-Azabi was then released on bond later that month.
Mahyoub and Al-Azabi noted that they were each asked extensive questions about HuffPost’s report during their new credible fear interviews. Both men and their lawyers believe public attention may have played a role in USCIS’s reversal of its initial decisions. USCIS told HuffPost it did not comment on individual cases.
“I can’t explain how I feel. I am just so happy, especially after having faced such danger against my life. But now, I found out that justice does exist in the United States,” said Al-Azabi, who is in the midst of his own immigration proceedings. He said he is hopeful that he will also be granted asylum.