Thank you for your kind generosity in helping us reach our goal to make bail for Yusuf's freedom. I'm thrilled to report that Yusuf was released from detention last week, and is well on his way to beginning a new life for himself and, God willing one day soon, for his family back home. Yusuf is such an amazing human being, I'm truly blessed to have met him. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, as he fights for his right to remain here with us and forge a living, and fights to bring his family out of harm's way. There is much work to do, but none of it would be surmountable without your support. Thanks again, much love to you.
All the best,
UPDATE: An extremely generous, concerned fellow citizen recently came up with a genius idea. She is donating two extra Hamilton tickets to raffle off for our fund. The show is on May 4th at 7pm, and orchestra level tickets are worth $800-1200 each. So that's about a $2000 value that you have a chance to win for a fraction of the cost. (The seats are Orchestra Row X, if you're curious). This show is sold out til mid-2018, so get in there people!!
Here's how it works: donate to this fundraiser by buying as many $50 raffle tickets as you want/are able. So for example, you could buy one raffle ticket for $50, or 10 for $500 to increase your chances of winning ten-fold. Again, this is about a $2000 value, so you may want to be strategically generous. At midnight EST on Friday, April 28, we will close the raffle and have a computer program randomly select a donor's name based on their donation's proportional probability. Come Saturday the 29th, someone and their lucky friend will get 2 tickets to one of the dopest Broadway productions ever to grace the stage.
When you donate, we will divide your donation by $50 and log that number of tickets in our raffle database. Feel free to leave a comment letting us know if you'd like to donate outside of the raffle. If you'd like to remain anonymous on the public site, you can check "Hide name and comment from everyone but the organizer," but be sure to enter your name and email address below that so I can get you the goods if you win. And if you've already donated to the fund, and would like your previous donation to be included in the raffle, please just shoot me an email, I got you.
Yusuf is a 29-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan who I've had the luck to meet through my friend from law school, currently representing him through his asylum case. Yusuf was a teacher in his hometown but was forced to flee after sectarian violence in his region began to target and unravel his community. Yusuf arrived in the United States in August after surviving a long and dangerous journey. He told us that he came to this country seeking refuge because he believed he would be safe here. He had learned about the type of help this country could provide when his village was experiencing starvation and USAID fed him and his family. Yusuf didn't have any family here, he came only with the promise of a better, more dignified life. But when he arrived, instead of being welcomed and provided with support, he was immediately detained.
Soon after his arrival, our government already made a determination that Yusuf does indeed have a credible fear of persecution if he were to return to his home country. This therefore makes him eligible to apply for asylum - a completely legal, internationally recognized and protected right. But instead our government continues to treat him like a criminal, locking him up in an ICE-outsourced county jail where he's been awaiting his court proceedings since August. He wasn't able to see a judge or get a lawyer until his first court date in December – almost four months after being locked up. For almost 9 months now, Yusuf has been holed up in a county jail, forced to wear an orange jumpsuit, shave his head, wear chains around his wrists and waist to his court appearances, cut off from speaking with his family back home. Many observers find these practices in violation of international agreements to which the US is a party, violating his rights to at least due process, freedom of movement, liberty, and security.
I was present at Yusuf's bail hearing, and witnessed first-hand the government attorney and judge's deeply prejudiced suspicion and hostility towards this young, kind soul. Even my friend and his attorney, who's run through asylum cases before, was surprised at the vitriol. I think it's clear that Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia, played a role in the judge setting the bail at the maximum $20,000 mark. We had some early success and momentum to try to raise this amount, but we're still thousands of dollars short.
When community members learned about Yusuf's case, they were immediately eager to assist. The members of NYU's Islamic Center, as well as other communities, are waiting to welcome Yusuf. One member has offered to house Yusuf upon his release. Yusuf is also registered to begin taking classes in Brooklyn. The problem is that that insane $20,000 bond. Yusuf's family in Pakistan is unable to afford anything close to that amount and his brother would have to sell the family home in order to pay just a part of the bond. As a result, Yusuf is locked up while he awaits his asylum hearing months from now. His attorneys are gathering evidence for his case but with Yusuf in jail and unable to make any phone calls to his family, he is essentially unable to assist in his own defense. He has not been able to communicate with his loved ones in months and is desperate to know if they’re safe.
Yusuf turns 30 in May. After hearing about the possibility of being released, Yusuf told his lawyers that if he gets bond, he will have two birthdays: the day he was born and the day he gets his freedom. After everything he has gone through, Yusuf still maintains an unwavering faith that God and good people will help free him and get him back on his feet.
As of now, Yusuf has been imprisoned in a county jail for almost 9 months, and will stay there for several more if we cannot raise $20,000. If we do raise this money and buy Yusuf's freedom, the court will return the money to this fund upon completion of Yusuf's asylum case. We will then use this bail money to fund the pre-trial release of another detained asylum-seeker caught in the same tragic circumstances. We hope by recycling your donation, we can help many more of our brothers and sisters who have gone through immense suffering to start a new life in this country. If we surpass our goal, we will use the surplus to help Yusuf get on his feet in the months before he's eligible to legally work.
I've spoken to Yusuf a few times, updating him on our fundraiser's progress, and he is incredibly humbled and grateful for the love and support from strangers who don't even know him yet. He says, God willing, when he's free, he will make everyone who supported him proud, and wishes them the best of blessings and happiness.
Thank you so much for your generosity and your prayers. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
And please feel free to forward this and circulate! Thank you!