CALEXICO, California (Border Report) — After a two-month trek through Central America and Mexico, Nabeel Younis has finally made it to the U.S., albeit in federal custody and under quarantine.
Other than that, friends and family of the Pakistani national don’t know much about his condition or well-being inside the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, California.
“They are controlling access and it’s very unfortunate, it’s not the way this country was built, that’s for sure,” said Fitzgerald Kelly, a friend of Younis’.
Kelly told Border Report he has known Younis for about five years and the two have traveled together.
He also said that a few days ago, he had a chance to speak with the 27-year-old Younis by phone.
“I could barely make out what he was saying, but he told me he was in quarantine and after two weeks he would get a hearing of some sort,” Kelly said.
Typically, since the coronavirus pandemic began, most migrants who are detained after being apprehended for illegally crossing the border, have to be isolated to make sure they don’t have the COVID-19 virus.
After that time frame, they are given an opportunity to begin their asylum cases.
Younis told Border Report last week he wishes to seek asylum in the U.S. and that’s why he originally left Pakistan in the first place.
That was three years ago when he and a group of friends attended an event for Pope Francis in Panama.
They stayed and never went back home.
“Pakistan is 97 percent Muslim, the Muslims in Pakistan are really quite oppressive of everyone who is not a Muslim,” said Kelly. “He’s been motivated for a long time about his search for a place where he can actually act as a Christian number one, and also be free.”
After his time in Panama, Younis and some friends left for the U.S. in November.
A few weeks later they arrived in Tijuana but were arrested and sent to an immigration detention facility just south of the border.
“We were arrested by federales and I was in jail for almost a month,” Younis told Border Report.
Younis was then released and sent to a shelter in Tijuana, where he contemplated his next move.
He and his friends decided to set off for the border between Calexico and Mexicali, Mexico about 120 miles east of San Diego.
They made it over the border barrier but were apprehended north of the border.
Younis has been at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility, which is run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ever since. His friends’ whereabouts are unknown.
“He is strong, he is smart, he wants to become educated and wants to be in the medical field,” said Kelly. “He’s what this country needs.”
Border Report reached out to ICE last week, seeking to arrange an on-camera interview with Younis. Four days later, a media representative reached out stating they were looking into it. On Wednesday morning, ICE said it would not happen until next week, but only by phone.
And details about Younis’ case are also not being made public.
Kelly said he and others are in the process of hiring an attorney to represent Younis.
Border Report will continue to follow Younis’ case as it moves forward.