SANTA MARIA, California (Border Report) — Nabeel Younis can mark off his first court appearance in his pursuit for asylum in the United States, but things aren’t going as he’d hoped.
Younis, who fled persecution as a Christian in Pakistan, was scheduled to appear in immigration court on Tuesday. But when he showed up, staff told him they pushed his hearing to Wednesday.
So, Younis returned to court on Wednesday, traveling from more than 32 miles from San Luis Obispo to Santa Maria.
He spent hours inside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Santa Maria.
He had hoped immigration officials would remove the ankle monitor they use to track him. Younis said he volunteered to have the monitor placed on his ankle while in custody in January at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, California, and that officials promised to remove it on March 23, he said.
But officials notified him Thursday that the ankle monitor stays. However, they did move the monitor from his left to his right leg after he complained of pain and soreness.
Younis also learned Thursday that ICE officials would visit him at the home where he is staying in San Luis Obispo. In April, he must return for a second hearing and be home for a second visit later that month. Only then can the ankle monitor come off.
In the meantime, Younis can work.
On Tuesday, he told Border Report he plans on enrolling in college to study nursing.
Younis is staying at the home of Fitzgerald Kelly in San Luis Obispo.
The two met five years ago when Kelly traveled through Pakistan, and Younis helped him with transportation from the airport in Islamabad. The two stayed in touch over the years, and when Kelly heard Younis had crossed the border and needed help, he offered his home and financial resources.
Younis left Pakistan for Panama two years ago. He worked there and saved money, and even learned to speak Spanish.
In November, he and some friends decided to head to the United States.
But the journey was not easy. While traveling through Mexico, they were robbed, beaten, and jailed for a month in Tijuana.
Upon his release, authorities sent him to a shelter. That’s where he and his friends decided to head for the Mexicali-Calexico border about 120 miles east of San Diego.
They hired a smuggler, who had them climb a ladder and hop over the border barrier into the U.S. territory before Border Patrol agents apprehended them.
While Younis ended up at the Imperial Detention Facility, officials sent his friends to other detention centers.
After a month in custody and initiating his asylum claim, Younis was released and made it to San Luis Obispo.
Border Report had followed Younis as he navigates the asylum process, and he often talks about his dreams of starting a new life in the U.S.
He said he doesn’t need the ankle monitor because he’s not going anywhere.
“They have my passport,” he told Border Report after his hearing. “Where can I run? I’m not going anywhere. It took me a long time and hardship to come, in the first place.”